Wednesday, May 8, 2013

"How to Love San Francisco" won Writing Contest at Madison Writer's Institute

Imagine you are a writer! Just imagine working on the book you always wanted to write! It takes you some years to finish this book - working night hours and weekends - with your laptop being your best friend. Sacrificing a lot of fun nights out with friends and family for a lonely meeting with just the white page in front of you. If you ever make it to the last page, it takes you another few months to edit the book and easily some years to find a publisher. BUT - if the book becomes a reality one day and might even get a tiny little bit of attention -that is something which puts a HUGE smile on every authors' face. 
Of course I want to share the entry with you... here it is: 

And this is what happened lately... 

As you might know already, I am working together with a great translator from Stanford. Just recently she finished the translation of the first chapter of "How to love San Francisco".

I took the opportunity to enter a Writing contest at the Writer's Institute of the University of Madison-Wisconsin. After submitting my entry of "How to love San Francisco" I completely forgot about the contest again. Guess what?

When I arrived at the conference I received the great news that "How to love San Francisco" had won the "Third place" of Non-Fiction category from 300 contest entries. I quite couldn't believe it and possibly couldn't have asked for more. Ok, ok - there is of course still "First Place" and "Second Place" but I feel that I still want to be able to improve myself :) - and it was the first writing contest I ever entered. 

This was their reasoning behind the selection:

"This article or book sets up a fresh, somewhat frisky and unusual “take” on San Francisco. The author teases us with questions that ask us to look at our stereotypes. And she presents an answer about San Francisco not being what we think it is. It’s an “island nation,” not just a city. We liked this fresh voice, which is very hard to attain with travel articles about popular cities that have been written about so many times before. We wanted to turn the page to see what other nuggets the author brought forth."

How to Love San Francisco:  Travel Stories

“It’s an odd thing, but anyone who disappears is said to be seen in San Francisco.
It must be a delightful city and possess all the attractions of the next world.”
Oscar Wilde, writer and poet


With brisk strokes, he skillfully sketched the outline of the United States on a small airline napkin.  In Hollywood’s place stood a tiny movie reel, a Statue of Liberty where New York lies and a pair of red socks representing Boston alluded to the baseball team.  
“And what about San Francisco?” I demanded.  Where’s that little piece of land that juts out, almost completely surrounded by water.  Where is that Golden Gate Bridge, gleaming against the honey-gold evening sun?  And where are all the dancing flower children with braided hair in long flowing dresses?
My flight companion smirked.  “San Francisco?”  With one sophisticated nudge, he returned the glasses that had begun to slide down the bridge of his nose back to their rightful place, before beginning,  “Well…San Francisco, my dear, does not really belong to the United States.”
 Sufficiently bewildered, I paused. 
He brushed his hand through his hair, picked up his pen, and drew one solitary island just outside the northern bounds of California.  “San Francisco is a great island nation with hills, cable cars, and plenty of room for dreams and adventures, wouldn’t you agree?” 
I couldn’t quite answer that question yet, and I could only vaguely imagine what awaited me in the city that was often referred to as the Paris of the West.
 “Oh, I wish I could be your age in San Francisco again!” he said as he carefully added a bridge and locomotive to his sketch. His face stretched itself into a wide soundless laugh.  “As I’m sure you know, the fame seekers sashay to Los Angeles and the ambitious run to New York, but those on a quest for meaning always find themselves in San Francisco.”  Passing me the colorful sketches, he uttered one last sentence, “Have fun, young lady!”  He, then, turned his head away from me, closed his eyes, and dozed off. 
Absorbed in my thoughts, I folded up the napkin and stared out of the plane window into the dense blanket of clouds.  San Francisco, a place for adventurers and meaning-seekers?  Is this the path that I was on as well?  Hopes, fears, and images of San Francisco mixed together into one big jumble of thoughts inside my head.  Coming to San Francisco must have been the right choice.  My suitcase was filled to the brink with all my hopes, future ambitions, and over 100 pounds of clothes.  San Francisco, here I come!

Stay tuned!

Yours, Hanni