In 2007, I submitted a nonfiction piece about my time in the army called “You and What Army” to Event‘s Creative Nonfiction contest. I was a couple of months into my year at SFU’s Writer’s Studio, new to writing in English, and my teacher, Wayde Compton, encouraged me to submit. When I found out a few months later that I was one of three winners, I could hardly believe it. It was like a dream. It was the biggest thing that ever happened to me as a writer. I remember taking the prize money to my favourite store on Commercial Drive in East Vancouver, Banshee (which no longer exists), and buying a pink dress and a necklace with a tree pendant I thought I’d cherish forever. (Unfortunately I hardly wore them, but they’re still around! Somewhere… I think.)
Greedy, I submitted again in 2009, hoping to at least get shortlisted. And then I won again, this time alongside my dear friend Eufemia Fantetti. Which was crazy in the most wonderful and unexpected way.
If you told me in 2007, when I slipped my freshly inked piece into an envelope with shaky hands and kissed it for good luck that nine years later I would be judging the contest, I would have called you crazy. Judging it feels almost as dreamy as winning it. Event’s contest gave me my first big break. It was the beginning of my literary career. I feel so incredibly lucky for the opportunity to do this for someone else.
The deadline to submit is April 15. I hope you do!