The Samoa Observer’s Short Story Compettion for year 2015-2016, officially ended with a prize-giving ceremony yesterday morning.
Held at the meeting house of the National University of Samoa, the ceremony was attended by invited guests, Chinese Ambassador Wang Xuefeng and his Good lady, Tong Xin, parents, and friends; the writer was one of the speakers.
This is what he said:
Good morning and greetings to you all!
Let me begin by saying that on behalf of the Samoa Observer and its staff, it is my privilege to extend our congratulations to all the students, who took part in this year’s Short Story Competition.
In particular, I am delighted to declare that all winners are deserving of a special token of appreciation, for their efforts. Well done to you all.
As for the rest, do not despair. Instead, start working on those stories today and as you’re doing so, make a promise to yourselves, that next year is your turn.
We also want to say thank you to the parents of all those students, for making it possible for their children to attend school, since it is only there that they are challenged by the spirit of competitiveness to do well, to excel.
In brief, 550 young authors submitted short stories to the competition, and of that number, 50 are going to be awarded prizes this morning.
So let us celebrate.
Let’s celebrate freedom of speech, freedom of ideas, and freedom of thought.
Let us do with our open minds, knowing that in any competition of this nature, not all entrants are going to win prizes.
Instead, only just a handful will.
But then that should not be reason for the others to dither, or become discouraged.
Instead, this time they should feel more determined to get that prize, when next year’s competition comes around.
Indeed, they can do this while bearing in mind, that the idea they had made the effort to write those stories in the first place, and then submitting them to this competition, is the clear indication that they have the writer’s gift in them.
And all that they have to do now, is nurture that gift by continuing to read stories in all sorts of books, in newspapers and in magazines, with the idea of arousing that creative prowess of theirs in their minds, which is when they are compelled to just push on towards thinking creatively, competitively.
And when that happens, before they know it, that writer’s gift that is already theirs, will have become competitive as well, as we all know it would.
In other words, they should never give up.
Let me assure them then, that once they’re enraptured by the gift called the written word, there is nothing than can stop them from producing the sort of stories that both inspire, and motivate.
Indeed, those are the ones that truly stand out, so that they do win awards.
And at the same time, they should bear in mind that they are duty-bound to use the written word wisely, so as to build and create, and not to shame and annihilate.
As so for you, our young writers gathered here this morning, let me tell you about this little truth that is always in my mind.
It will continue to remind that everyone – or almost everyone on account of those unavoidable misfortunes that are bound to befall us along the day - is born with a gift, a talent.
Sooner or later, that talent will reveal itself, and as for all of you gathered here this morning, you will have already known that your talent is writing; in other words, yours is the written word.
Your duty then, is to continue to nurture that talent of yours by reading any literature that is available to you, and along the way you will find that there is a lot more in this world, than you had previously imagined.
In other words, it is a world teeming with tantalizing ideas, so that all sorts opportunities – some wonderful, others not so endearing at all, and in fact they can be quite repulsive - are developing in your mind which is when you will find, that your duty now is to be selective.
You will have to adopt that which you believe is of benefit to you and yours, and abandon that which you believe will bring you and yours, nothing but despair.
And so, when you have mastered that little chore well, that is when your talent is truly born, and you are now a writer.
There is one rule though.
Bear in mind that your talent - the Word - never dies, and as long as you’re around in this tiny paradise of ours anyway, it is your responsibility to use it wisely to build, and never to destroy.
I wish you well.
Now to for our judges, we say thank you. We assure you that this competition would not be the success that it is today, had it not been for your kind support.
To our partners, Samoa Stationery and Books, Eveni, Bluesky and the Chinese Embassy, we are sincerely grateful for your kind, unwavering support, and so we say, thank you.