When I began writing this blog, I made the promise that coming along for this literary ride would be fun. This past Saturday, it was that and so much more. WCDR’s Whispered Words short prose competition announced the winners at this month’s breakfast meeting. My story, “What’s Left”, took first place. Really.

When Heather O’Connor asked me in an interview what this win meant for me, I realized that it meant a lot. That I was launched. I had landed in the river and the current was pulling me along. That these past few years of work were beginning to truly blossom into something tangible and real. That I was on the right track. That people who didn’t know me thought my work was good.

It was a magical day, and not just because I won, but I became aware of the presence of what we all long for: community. Yes, it’s the Writers’ Community of Durham Region, so the community part is obvious, but the awareness was of its genuine nature – the individuals who make up that gang – how generous and sincere they are. The contest is a labour of love. Theresa Dekker, Ruth Walker and Heather O’Connor put together this contest for love, not money.

As Ruth was announcing the winners, my thoughts flitted from, maybe I did win, to, there’s no way, silly, and by the time she had announced the third place winner, it was clear that being in the anthology as a finalist was going to be a very good credit on my CV. As she was announcing the second place winner, I sat back in my chair and relaxed. Then, Ruth said, “It is with great pride and pleasure…” as she turned in a slow motion arc toward me, her eyes a-twinkle, “… I’d like to announce this year’s winner: our very own, Deepam Wadds.” She was smiling right at me. She said my name. I won? What?

What followed was such a tremendous outpouring from so many people that my feet didn’t touch ground for hours afterward. It felt as if everyone were celebrating – like we all won this together. The tagline for our organizations is, “Writing doesn’t have to be a solitary act.” That is so appropriate. It is because of all that is available through WCDR that I have accomplished what I have. I’m quite certain that without the mentorship of Susan Reynolds, the workshops of Ruth Walker and Gwynn Sheltema, Barbara Turner-Vesselago, Barbara Kyle and Pat Schneider that I would not have finished my novel, a big handful of short stories, some poems, and a hundred pages of this memoir. I have them all to thank.

But especially, I have Susan Reynolds to thank – for her unwavering support and encouragement, her insight and her wisdom, and for her friendship.

It was a day to remember, an incredibly generous prize, and a heart-lifting reminder that we’re in this together.

You can read more in Heather’s article: http://wcdr.ca/wcdr/?page_id=1479