Writing Tips

The winner of Umoja Writing Competition 2016: Peace Essay

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First place goes to ‘Peace Essay’ by Disha P Raval who is a Kenyan Citizen who is an Australian resident.

Disha is only 11 years old and turns 12 at the end of the month. We are super excited to announce Disha’s entry ‘Peace Essay’ as our winner. Congratulations Disha on your entry.

Here is what the judges had to say about it:

“I think the author really captured the elements of ‘peace’ and what it means to humanity. Some well-supported ideas that kept me engaged when reading.”

“The author has contemplated what peace means. The writer obviously has researched our theme and produced a well structured piece of writing. I believe this writer feels passionately about peace.”

With no further ado, here is Disha’s entry:

PEACE ESSAY

Both in the world and every community, we need to have peace. All human beings share the same needs and there are many ways that we can make peace in our community and spread it around the world. We don’t always need a large group to make this difference. Even the smallest groups can start making a change and spread it to everyone just like Mahatma Gandhi Ji of India, also known as the advocate of peace, who says; “ There is no way to peace; peace is the only way”.

Peace building, conflict resolution, conflict prevention, whichever term you use, sits uneasily within one particular field, discipline, or government department for that matter. Is it development, foreign policy, diplomacy, defence and security, justice and human rights, any or all of the above?

It seems like the more a society advances, the less peace there seems to be. Gone are the days of just sitting under a tree and thinking about life. There’s Twitter feeds to read, Facebook statuses to update, videos to take and upload on YouTube, drama to indulge in, gossip to listen to and spread, advertising bombarding us everywhere. It seems like we’re soaked in figurative and literal noise all the time. Peace seems to have gone by the wayside but it’s very important we have it in our lives because how many great decisions do you make when you’re not at peace?

The issue of war and peace has always been a focal issue in all periods of history and at all levels relations among nations. The concern of the humankind for peace can be assessed by taking into account the fact that all religions, all religious scriptures and several religious ceremonies are committed to the cause of peace and all these advocate an elimination of war.

Peace is very important in our lives and it is essential to our overall well-being. However, this is something that has, regrettably, eluded us for years and years in this world. This world been hindered by war, conflicts and disagreements throughout human history, which has left our world and the many people in it in a deplorable emotional and physical state. This should not be the case.

Even in the places where the guns are silent, there is still a form of conflict going on in many places which is obviously going to have negative effects on the future society and spark more wars and conflicts in this world. The result of not having peace is very common and near to us. There is almost one or two instances of terrorism, destruction, violence, disease and refugee crisis reported on television, newspapers and social media. Despite peace being such a clear concept in one’s mind, it seems to be drifting away and becoming more and more challenging to achieve as individuals, communities, societies and nations. To prevent continued cycles of violence, education must be promoted for peace, tolerance and understanding to help create a better society for all.

There has always been an emphasis on the undesirable effects of not having peace. Nations and alliances continue to shamelessly spend resources to research on new technologies and warfare. They continue arming themselves with unnecessary ammunition without adequate soul searching as to how conflict can be resolved and peace achieved in the long term.

The concept of peace is unique for every individual however, the formula of peace remains steadfastly in the universal teachings of humanity, which have been prescribed in almost all the religions of this world. It is common practice for such teachings to be interpreted differently and negatively to suit different situations. On an individual level, we see more and more instances of people suffering from diseases as a result of not being peaceful.

One thing that is critically needed to create more peace in the world would be seeking love and not trying to control other people. Trying to control people for one’s own benefit will solely cause conflicts with others. Reducing control by listening to everyone’s opinions and hearing what they have to say is going to broaden the approach of love to others; be it a peer or another country. Another thing that is also critically needed to help restore peace is placing peace before power because having peace is very crucial. There are other ways like respecting opinions and beliefs that contrasts the idea to “control” people using threatening behaviour.

In addition, in today’s world, everyone needs to be tolerant. Tolerance in all that we think and do is going to make a difference in our lives and the lives around us. Tolerance towards others is appreciating the diversity and the beliefs of different people. When we fail to tolerate others’ beliefs, ways of being and opinions, the ending results can be ultimately violent.

Lastly, the last point that is very important is seeking forgiveness and not revenge. Where does an eye for an eye lead? Usually, too many eyes are missing! No matter where we live, what religion we practice or what culture we cultivate, at the heart of it all, we are humans with the same ambitions and aspirations to raise our families and wanting to live our lives to the fullest. Our cultural, religious or political differences should not be the reason to bring conflicts, grief and destruction to our world.

There are many things that could be done to make peace throughout the world that haven’t been addressed yet. I think that we should all start on making a difference and making our communities peaceful all around the world. We should start making our world peaceful and non-violent. The little changes that could be made would make a very big and a very positive change to today’s world and could change numerous lives. If we try to make a difference now, then we can change communities for the better in the future. This will lead to a better and brighter future for our younger generation and peace throughout the world.

Disha, this year's winner of Umoja Writing Competition was born in Kenya and now lives in Australia.
Disha, this year’s winner of Umoja Writing Competition was born in Kenya and now lives in Australia.

 

 

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Third place is ‘Left Behind’ by last year’s winner Kirsten Leggett

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We are proud to announce third place in the Umoja Writing Competition 2016.

Comments from our judges:

“This narrative really captured my attention and pulled at the hear strings. This is the job of a narrative. Well-structured and flowed well.”

“This was probably my top pick. I like the descriptive language and, yes, I did shed a tear or two. I felt like I was in the room with them. I also think the theme ‘peace’ was used perfectly.”

Now it’s your turn to read our third placed entry. Please let us know what you think in the comments below. You could also congratulate Kirsten on her writing.

Left Behind by Kirsten Leggett from Tasmania

I sat beside her bed with her hand in mine; hers wrinkled with age and with lines of wisdom etched into the folds. Her skin was thin these days, speckled with the countless hours in the sun, the time spent tending gardens, pegging washing on the line, holding the hands of her children, her grandchildren, and great grandchildren. I was here to say goodbye, to my grandmother but I could not seem to find the words. We had never had this problem in the past. Talking was never hard, like the heaviness of this moment, as though my heart was being dragged along the bottom of the ocean floor dredging up memories. Now, I felt the weight of this moment above me, bearing down on the inevitable.

She motioned with her free hand towards the drawer beside her bed, her eyes barely open and fixed on mine.

“Everyone must leave something behind,” she whispered. “My journal is yours darling; my last gift to you. You will know what to do with it when the time is right.”

I reached into the drawer and my fingers found the familiar feel of the black leather, smooth and worn from the years of my grandmother’s touch. I had run my hand over its surface so many times over the years, as I sat with her in her living area where she would write in the morning sun that streamed through her window. The past few years she had been documenting so much of her life, and the pages were brimming with memories, the ones too precious to abandon. I brought it out of its resting place and under the low light opened the cover. The scent of my grandmother rose from the pages, a blend of talcum powder and French lavender clinging to the animal hide that formed the bookends to her past. Each page was meticulously marked with a date, a memory, a reminder of a life lived. She no longer battled against the ailing this and failing that. That war was over. She had arrived at this place of surrender, and willingly so it seemed from the outside. She was done.

I can still hear the phantom words of the nursing staff; a gentle touch on my shoulder. “She will be at peace soon.”

Peace? A word so often associated with conflict and resolution I thought.

My grandmother’s words echoed in my conscience, “Life is not meant to be a battle. It is a joy, hardships and all. Embrace them as you would a new born child. We are the product of our life experience”.

I turned the page to see a photograph of my grandmother in her twenties, perched on the hood of a car, smiling into the sun as though she had just discovered the meaning of life, shards of light dancing around her, captured through the lens. It was the same photo that sat on top of her piano, nestled deep inside the confines of a mahogany frame, the one that lights up with the morning rays, and then fades back to a lingering memory as the sun passes over rooftops to settle in the west.

I wondered what I would leave behind, when it was time for me to leave this earth. How long would I linger in the memories of those I love? I know for a fact that I will always live on in the hearts of my children, and their children should I be lucky enough to see them born into this world. I wonder if I too will marvel at how advanced children are these days and how much has changed with the passing of time. With emerging wisdom will I see how precious each moment is, and treasure each milestone as they first smile, grow their first tooth and stumble and totter as they find their feet in this world? Their children may not remember me for I will be just a name, another story of a loved mother and grandmother like an ancient legend read from the pages of a story book. I would be no more than words left on pages, the source of genetic markers and colloquial sayings, my sentiments passed like a baton through generations.

Yet somehow, amongst this wondering I know my essence will remain, in the walls of the house I loved, the saplings that grew tall under my nurturing, and on the mountain trails I walked. Here I will linger, where the flowers burst forth under the mounting pressure of spring, where others too will pass, stop and stoop low to rest a paper thin petal on the tip of their finger and say, “My, look how beautiful you are.” I wonder, on the day that my spirit returns home, will the forest dance and sway in the mountain mist and whisper on the wind “Yes, she found it, all that she had been longing for.”

As I turn another page, a flattened sprig of lavender falls to my lap and my grandmother closes her eyes. I kiss her gently on the forehead. “I see you found it too,” and we sat in the presence of peace, together, just one more time.

Congratulations to Kirsten for again entering a well-written and engaging story. It was a pleasure to read it.

Writing is lots of thinking but it’s also doing

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Lots of people think writers live in a dream world, constantly thinking up stories.

It’s not really like that because there’s a lot of thinking that never turns into a story. Ideas twist and turn around a writer’s brain a bit like clay in a sculptures hand, until those ideas turn into actual writing.

Sometimes getting a story down takes years, like a researched novel or life story. Sometimes a story takes moments of scribbled ideas.

Get those ideas out of your head and onto paper or computer and tell your story.
Get those ideas out of your head and onto paper or computer and tell your story.

It doesn’t matter where your thinking goes as long as you don’t procrastinate. If you procrastinate you can kid yourself that you will write that story one day (and never actually do it).

So even if your thinking hasn’t got you to a full-formed story, just start writing. If you don’t put pen to paper or start tapping on the keyboard your ideas will forever remain in your brain and you can never share them that way.

It’s just like this competition. If you have been thinking you had plenty of time to start and you’re still thinking about it – start your writing now.

And on that note – get your entry in before it’s too late.

Remember this competition is about encouraging writing but it’s also a fundraiser for Umoja Orphanage Kenya. Please help them by entering.

ENTER HERE.

It’s time to get your entry into our writing competition written

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Time is slipping away. Tick, tock ticking away.

Have you started your entry yet? How long do you take to draft a story, edit and polish it? Weeks? Days? What about months?

There’s just two months left before our 26th August closing date. Stop reading this and get writing.

To give you some inspiration here’s another writing quote:

writing quote

I hope this has encouraged you to enter but if you’re not convinced, think about the children of the Umoja Orphanage Kenya where all funds raised from this competition go to. Cathy and her team have done a wonderful job so far and will open the doors to the children very soon. Though of course, more money is needed for their ongoing care and to create their sustainable orphanage.

ENTER HERE

Help promote Umoja Writing Competition

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We always give this competition plenty of time for entrants to write and send in their entry. Don’t leave it too late though, and miss the deadline. Get working on your entry today. The theme is ‘Peace’ and in today’s world there’s plenty of scope to find a story within our theme. We all want a peaceful world and umoja is all about unity and peace. The small entry fee goes directly to the Umoja Orphanage Kenya Project.

If you would like to help us promote the competition please download the flyer and distribute where you can, your school, university, workplace, gym, library, local book store – anywhere you may find writers. Thank you in advance.

Umoja Writing Comp 2016 Flyer

Front of Umoja Writing Competition Flyer.
Front of Umoja Writing Competition Flyer.

Are you writing anything?

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Are you writing anything?

Anything at all? It could be a letter to a friend (probably not snail mail these days), but at least a long message on Messenger or via email. It could be a report for work. It could be a blog post. It could even be your entry for Umoja Writing Competition 2016.

Get great writing ideas from Australian Writers Center Instagram.
Get great writing ideas from Australian Writers Center Instagram. https://www.instagram.com/writerscentreau/

If you’re not writing, why not? You are a part of this writing community of over 500 followers if you’re reading this. You are a writer aren’t you? Writers need to write.

I try to write every day, be it at work or at home. If I’ve done a lot of marketing and social media at work I’ll take a break at home and perhaps read a good book instead, but I am writing every day in some form (or writing these and other blog posts).

Writing every day hones your skills as a writer. Here’s some tricky ideas to get more writing into your day:

  • Get up earlier. You can even go for a walk first to clear the head (exercise is known to boost creativity). That way you’ll have time to write before you head off to work or get the kids to school.
  • Get a job involving writing (journalism, web editing, marketing – just some).
  • Start a blog. You can write about the things you are passionate about.
  • Join a writers group. Like-minded souls encouraging each other in their passion for writing.
  • Doodle a poem on your desk pad while you’re waiting for someone.
  • If you’ve read a book that had an ambiguous ending write your own.
  • Write letters to your loved ones and leave them around the house so they can find them and enjoy them.
  • Write a thank you note to someone who has done something kind to you.
  • Volunteer at your local club to be the newsletter editor.
  • Enter this competition.

Now all you have to do is choose one and get writing. We’ll give you more writing tips next week and if you have any great ideas to get people writing please COMMENT below.

If you chose to enter this competition. Get your entry form at ENTRY FORM.