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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Writer's Challenge (NOT the FaithWriters Challenge) (06/10/10)

TITLE: The Female Domination Solution
By Colin Swann


My paper knife was trudging along the envelope like a plough struggling through rocky soil - hope was trying to lift my doubt.

It was what I feared, yet another rejection of an article. I had spent weeks on the research of this one before I had submitted it to the 'Fem Mag'. It was a very polite refusal: 'Dear Steph ….. thank you for your 1750 word article on 'Ladies' Hats' ..... found it absorbing ….. but, this item is covered by our fashion writer …..Yours sincerely, Giselle Downer.'

I know my limitations – I shall never write a classic or a best seller – I've settled for middle of the road, short submissions to magazine publications. I use the byline Steph to hoodwink female editors into thinking I'm one of their feminine species. I'm sure most smell a rat as I'm rubbish at most women's stuff. Just can't get into: woman trouble, time of the month, tampons and hysterectomies – the things that female publications are at home with.

It's harder to hit the Christian Mags - they want the big hitters - celebrity stars from off the box with followings into the thousands or other well-known Christian leaders and preachers. I occasionally preach at one small church with a disciple number of elderly ladies who hang on my every word. They are gushing in their praise but it's not the route to fame or a key-opener to writing success. Perhaps I need to use the pseudonym Bill Graham or Jack Wesley to impress Christian editors.

Several days later another letter had found itself in my hand and made me curious. It was not thickened by a returned piece of my failed writing and the envelope had the heading 'Opportunity Knocks'. It was for a Christian writing competition with a £1000 prize. The subject was 'Christian Giving' in no more that 750 words.

While writing my competition piece I had thought of how miserly I was as a Christian giver. Mostly, I give just a tenth of all that God gives me – I'm sure that's not enough. I resolved to put my giving up and do something extra too, and decided to discuss it with Gill.

“Remember that writing competition I told you about Gill? Well I've been challenged about my giving and would like to do something special for the Lord.”

“OK! What?”

“I'll give it a bit more thought, then let you know. I have an idea but I'm struggling with it at the present.”

“Alright! But hurry darling, don't keep me in suspense too long.”

I later spoke to my lovely wife and she agreed my plan. So I made a vow that if I won the prize then I would donate it to a Christian writing organisation with a proviso that it be used to finance subscriptions for budding young male writers who were financially embarrassed. I felt that this would infinitesimally alter the male and female writers' balance and increase the male pen-count likewise.

This decision made me feel great. Maybe God would help me out in winning – give me a lift up the ladder of success. This was real sacrificial giving and just what I needed to boost my ego – that was until Gill reminded me that it was all just pie in the sky until I won. I refused to be deflated – what about giving and receiving or in my case receiving and giving – suppose it's the same!

After what seemed like months I had the letter in my hands that I had been longing to receive with a wonderful heading 'Congratulations'.

I called out, “Gill I think I've won, come here so I can open it.”

“Open what – won what?”

“The Competition!”

It was the most beautiful letter I'd ever received. My eyes scanned over it and stopped at all the important bits: Dear Stephen, (used my full Christian name) ….. Congratulations ….. Second Prize ….. £500 ….. to be featured in 'Christian Tomorrow'..... Yours very sincerely, John Mates.

“Hallelujah, wow five hundred smackers. I've cracked it – I've arrived. Gill darling we need to go out and celebrate.”

Then I remembered.



And, I kept my vow!

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This article has been read 769 times
Member Comments
Member Date
The Masked Truelovers06/18/10
I liked your transparency, your humanity shining through. I could see the struggle at the end when you won the prize. I might have broken the vow and enjoyed a night with the wife. Good job.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 06/18/10
I'm not so sure I agree with it all, but it was well-written and it made me think. I enjoyed the twist of the male being discriminated against, I usually hear it the other way. At first I felt like you were trying to make a deal with God, you let me win I'll donate my winnings. I was happy to see God gave you 2nd place (a loophole you might have talked yourself out of) and that you did follow through. Good job on making me think and feel deeply.
Catrina Bradley 06/20/10
You've got some great descriptions, and I like the voice. I got confused in the middle - I didn't realize "Gill" was his wife. (In America, Gill would likely be a male). I like the challenges this writer faced - professionally and personally, and how he overcame both.
Brenda Shipman 06/20/10
Congratulations on your 2nd place win, and also on keeping your vow. Yay God! This entry was well-organized and thought provoking. I could empathize with you (even though I'm a woman!), and it nudged my conscious in the area of giving. Nicely done.
Susan Montaperto06/20/10
Very interesting writing. I definitely liked your title. It was good to read about your challenge, your winning and your sacrifice. By the way in the United States we spell the name Gill with a "J," so it looks like this Jill.
Keep writing.

God Bless.

Colin Swann06/20/10
Info for Americans:

Gillian = Gill

Jillian = Jill
Virgil Youngblood 06/21/10
I enjoyed your story. I didn't perceive your commitment as making a deal with God, for God doesn't make deals. I saw it as a promise you intended to keep and did. After all, the scriptures teach it is better not to make a vow unto God than to make a vow unto God and not keep it. Thanks for sharing something of the struggle writers face in getting published.
Rikki Akeo06/21/10
I sure know about promises! Sometimes, the Holy Spirit reminds me of the ones I made. I shouldn't have to be reminded, ya know?

I did similar with Faithwriters.
I wrote three entries with a hard start. As the fourth one went live, I asked God for one placement by my first ten entries so that I knew I was on the right track with life, my priorities, and using my time wisely. Genesis 24 came to mind.
God showed me.

He is forever faithful.
Verna Cole Mitchell 06/21/10
Good job...I admire your writing, and, if it's true,(sounds like) your dedication to the Lord and to supporting young male writers.
Joanne Sher 06/21/10
Enjoyed your voice in this.
Patricia Turner06/23/10
Not sure I agree that there's any kind of female domination issue - sometimes seems like the other way around. But this is a fun little piece with a message to take to heart. And don't we always receive and then give? Love your MC's commitment to do the right thing. Thanks for explaining about the name Gill (for a second I even thought it might be a nickname for Giselle). :)
Carol Slider 06/23/10
Interesting story with a nice ending! I can understand, definitely... I don't think I could write for 'Fem Mag', either. (Political commentary for the National Review or the Wall Street Journal--now THAT would be fun!) Enjoyed it--good job.
Edmond Ng 06/23/10
It's a blessing to give and for what really matters, your MC in the story has received the needed confirmation to know his worth as a writer. I can understand the feeling very well because while still a beginner, I asked of the Lord to bring me up to Advanced as a confirmation so I could join and give to the Christian writing organization!
Amanda Brogan06/24/10
I think you did a great job of portraying the writer's challenge in this piece, and his pseudonyms made it fun! :) (Especially "Steph" for trying to get into a female publication. Talk about desperate! HaHa! That was a hoot. ;) ) I was confused about "Gill" too until I read the comments. I thought it was his friend or something and I couldn't figure out why he was calling a guy "darling." :D The comments cleared that up though.

All in all -- a great entry! I like the ending too, how he was ready to spend the money celebrating and then remembered his vow.
mick dawson06/24/10
I know the frustration well.