“The one thing truly great people who change the world have something in common with us everyday people is that they rarely have a good idea of what they’re doing. They’re all blundering through, just like we are. That said, what sets them apart is that they try where we stop and claim it’s not worth it.” — Dreaming Human
The first time around, three years ago, I found an official-looking card in my postbox cordially inviting me to the New Straits Times inaugural Niexter Young Writer’s Awards 2010. Back then, I admired the design on the card, took little note of the date, put it back in its envelope..and with the admirable, unmatched speed of the ignorant and the unconcerned, managed to promptly forget all about it.
I ended up blinking in bewildered disbelief a month later when I was informed by my auntie who was informed by my uncle who was informed by my auntie-once-removed (who we can assume was informed by her brain while she was attending the above-mentioned ceremony) that my name had come up during the 2011 Awards for four of the awards I was apparently nominated for.
Mind you, the awards I won wasn’t anything truly significant; it wasn’t the Young Writer of the Year award or anything like that — I just got the Contributor awards for both Schooltimes and Niexter, the Clean Copy (I now know it means ‘free of any editing’) and most delightful of all for me was the Best Poem, for a poem I entitled ‘These Fools’.You can read it here.
Here the snarking human would like to remark snidely that considering the far more prestigious awards some other talented writers had gotten, the awards I had won was somewhat lame.And I knew it.Not that I was unhappy with what I’d been awarded for — no, I assure you this snarker was grinning fit to burst for weeks — it just that as far as achievements went, I didn’t do much. All I did was write, submit and make sure no issue I headed had any discrepancies in grammar and that my poem rhymed where they should/could, without sacrificing the message I was trying to get across — in other words, I did mundane little things that I know most other people could have too: I wanted to write, and I wrote.
But even though most people could do it, I (and of course, the other esteemed Niexter writers who got FAR better awards, just saying) was one of those who actually stepped out and did — that’s what differentiates a winner from the masses, in this case the mass of people who can write, I guess.
Try and you might just win something; never try and all you’ll win is nothing — now that’s a life lesson for you. You already knew that you say? We-ell hey, so did I, but this event just serves to illustrate the point. Now the dreaming human is convinced that if I just continue to write new posts in this blog of mine, I will eventually reach million-page readership, have people actually commenting and generating discussions, et cetera.
The snarker has to add that of course, to achieve that vision I’ll have to brush up on strategies of blog-promotion and advertising, lest the revenue generation from ads might be a boost to the blog readership.(The snarks keep coming out, which is never pleasant, but extremely less so if you use it on yourself, like I do. One of the (dis)advantages to having the dual persona of a realist and idealist, I would presume.)
Whatever it is, I wrote for Niexter for the simple joy of writing. Basically, I did it for the simple joy of doing it, and to my luck and utter surprise, a jury I didn’t even know existed decided to give me awards to immortalize this activity of mine forever in my memory.
And of course, to ensure that I keep writing for Niexter, the ever-cynical snarker chips in; and now I”m thinking that I really should stop sounding like a bipolar maniac.
Yes, yes, of course I continued writing for Niexter AND Schooltimes, a weekly issue NST publishes weekly on Thursdays, now (let it be noted that they actually paid a little, and while the sum is not much at all it’s still better than our old pal Niexter McScrooge, which doesn’t — did you guess right?). Year 2011 and 2012 passed without incident, though; there was absolutely, heartbreakingly no mention of the awards ceremony (this means that I wasn’t fit to be invited, by the way, not that there wasn’t actually any ceremony held. Blame my constantly preoccupied form 4 self, or the torture masquerading as the convoluted examination system known as SPM). There was no sign even of Niexter as the large writing community it actually was. Assignments ceased to come to my inbox, and my queries for further tasks was met with silence or brush-offs (which hurt more, curiously enough, but you never heard anything from this softie). I was left feeling abandoned, disillusioned…and when I reached Year 2013, under the assumption that I was too old to write for these news pullouts, I stopped writing for it completely.
And then the invitation came through the mail. Bearing the grand title “NST Niexter Young Writer’s Awards“, it bore the missive that a certain delighted dreaming human was invited to bring herself and one person (read: parent/guardian. Recall that Niexter writers consist of
old senior hats like me to young eenie-wenie 9-year-olds who probably look as sweet and innocent as the Golden Trio did in the first two Harry Potter movies. Age has a way of getting to you when you least expect it, hmm??)
Harry Potter references aside, what was the First Thing that came to my mind when I got the invitation card, you ask?
Firstly: I got a card, so I must have been nominated for something!!
Next: “Hobbits of the Shire”??What in the blazes is that??
If any snarkees are completely clueless as to what the hell I’m talking about, do take note that the above-mentioned piece of seeming garbage is actually the dress code printed on the card.
The delight being irrelevant, I was already fairly sure I would not be going, and so I did the obvious thing anyone in this day and age does when they’re fairly sure they won’t be attending something: I RSVP-ed saying that I would attend. “Hey, you never know–I might be able to go!” is what I’m sure most people will say, and on this particular occasion, I’m no exception.
And here I would like to report that I DID NOT ATTEND the ceremony, held on April 6th with much gusto. Neither did I get a call in the days that immediately followed, which led me to believe that If I HAD attended, I would have returned home empty-handed (and possibly brokenhearted), with no awards to highlight my name and bolster my regular-sized ego.
Then, the day right before my week spent in the inferno known as BUSY, I got a call (among other calls — read the linked post above for further explanation) through my poor overworked phone from Kak Lydia of NST, who holds the position of…er, whatsitname in NST and is in charge of us young Niexters. The call was garbled and lacked clarity on account of my being rather preoccupied with freaking out about the packed and nerve-wracking events I had scheduled for the following week (again, see above for explanation; gosh I’m starting to feel like a parrot) but I did understand that I had been nominated for, and actually received, some awards (yay) and that I had to collect them by Monday, otherwise it’ll all burn. As in be disposed of. As in ka-poof.As in bye-bye, no award prizes and/or money for you.And since any of you who have read about the busy week I would be having would already be aware of, there was no possible way I could go pick that stuff up miles away in NSTP Balai Riong KL on Monday or any day before without splitting myself and my darling starting-to-look-frighteningly-harassed mother into two. Even if I were so inclined to try, it wasn’t like we knew the way either, and anyway compared to everything else that was cropping up, really, automatic disposal of prizes I didn’t know I won until a full week after was the least important for me.
Didn’t mean I wanted to ‘dispose of it’ any more.
What could I say? Boo.
Fortunately, from past experience (e.g. the first awards I mentioned above) I was well-equipped to deal with this sort of thing. Within seconds, I got Kak Lydia’s permission to send a representative instead, wrote a letter of identification and contacted my aforementioned aunt (hi MakLong!) to ask her to get the services of her courier to get the prizes on my behalf. Sounds complicated? It is, somewhat. Sounds like I knew what I was doing too well? I did, because (and here appallingly I’m imitating the habits of a parrot again) I’ve done this thing before already.
So, by Monday, my Niexter Young Writers’ awards were reclaimed and saved from expulsion by virtue of quick-thinking, experience and the services of an unknown but extremely appreciated courier. I wasn’t to have the prizes in my hands until Friday, though, when my UEM interview took place. I was quite surprised by the number of items there were inside the unassuming bag containing the prizes, but then it was explained away when I realised that I was awarded the prize for Best Poem (titled Seven Wonders, click here to read) but also Best Story, alhamdulillah.
Let’s take a look at what the prizes were, shall we?
There’s really no other way to say it: It.Is.A.Lot.
Not much that I could really use, which resulted in my giving a little of this and that to my lucky little sister, but still. I’m happy that I even got anything.
“Hang on, the picture’s too obscure. What kind of trash did you get, Dreaming?”
Hmmph. I’ll have you know it’s no trash. There were predominantly comic books and things to do with comics — which I’m no great big fan of; I’m more of the bookish kind — but since Gempak was one of the main sponsors, I suppose this was to be expected.
And here is the inventory list, so that in the future when I’ve managed to lose a.k.a. strategically misplace everything, I’ll know exactly where to find it, accurate memories of it that is. Ho-ho-ho, Santa knows this is no wish list. Neither is it listed in particular order, I would like to add.
- a trophy bearing the words Best Story 2012. What makes it priceless for me is the beautiful picture superimposed on the glass.
- four English comic books from Gempak Comics, all of different genres
- a book titled Logomania, which I happen to know was offered as free copies in some major bookstores. Har-di-har, I caught you, prize-givers.
- Kidzania vouchers, two of them to be precise, one for an adult and one for a kid. I guess we know what my twin and my lil sis will be doing the next time we go to theCurve.
- a blue velvet box which opens up to reveal paperweights bearing the artwork of Gempak artists like Kaoru and I don’t really know the rest. A rather useless but admittedly pretty present.
- three certificates, for Contribution, Best Poem and Best Story respectively, which will be invaluable for my future in the way of applying for scholarships and universities, or so I’d like to believe.
- a recommendation letter, with which I’m deliberating over the wisdom of actually displaying it on this site.
- an artworked T-shirt which is apparently size L but must have been mislabeled — no one with a size of less than XXL can wear that thing.
- a fancy card-clip chain
- one free copy of you-guessed-it, Gempak
- a six-month long subscription to the Gempak magazine, which will invariably end up in my sister’s room
- a ‘survival kit’ in a nutter’s sense of the word. When I open it, out spills postcards, readily disassembled cardboard boxes as well as stickers. Then I realize that ‘Survival Kit’ is the name of the series portraying the characters on the items. I think. My clueless state will hopefully be sufficient to signify that I feel no attachment whatsoever to such objects, and have offered it to my sister, who I must offer congratulations for being wise enough to reject it. Goodjob for knowing when I’m trying to load off on you, lil’ sis.
- a special artworked bag of Gempak
- …the greatest deal, a fairly large sum of money which I shall not divulge, and all for a simple poem I wasn’t initially aware of its publication.
Wait, you mean to tell me that my poem Seven Wonders was actually worth almost RM200??
Curses.Had I known, I would have charged them for publishing that poem.
…Obviously, I’m joking. With a completely straight face and a serious heart, I can truthfully attest to the fact that in the end, it’s not what you achieved, but the fact that you achieved something that will give you the greatest sense of accomplishment.
Compared to that, the gifts I mentioned above are nothing.
So here’s to the fierce joy you get when you realized that the second time around you won was not purely due to dumb luck and a little bit of skill anymore, but due to your own initiative and perseverance.
I think my experiences above illuminate clearly what it really means to “just try”, and what you can get out of the simple act of taking the initiative to do what you want.I read (or was it said, I wonder) somewhere that the difference between those who change the world and those who remain insignificant is the willpower (that’s right; the initiative) exhibited by the former.
And if these great blocks of text haven’t spurred you dear snarkees on to do that one thing you’ve been putting on hold, or knew you could do but somehow never get around to, I’ll make it plain and LOUD so that your ears ring and your brain reverberates even if you technically can’t hear any text:
And no, this is no imitation of Nike’s catchy phrase dominating all of their ads, alright? Just to be clear.
Now, then. Since I’m too old for Niexter and Schooltimes now, I think I’ll see if I can do anything for ReMag instead…