Perhaps it’s true that some people do their best work under pressure. I was interested in entering an Afrikaans writing competition, but never seemed to get around to writing the short story – until January 28. The deadline for the competition? January 31. Yeah. Talk about brinkmanship.
With some help from Google Translate (which I use as a dictionary; my Afrikaans isn’t what it should be. Don’t worry, I didn’t write it in English and then just dump in Google Translate!) and a thorough edit from Mom, I eventually ended up with Engele as Gaste (Angels as Guests), a short story of about 850 words for which I had little esteem and no hope. But I had nothing to lose, did I? So I sent it off on January 31 and expected never to hear about it again.
Imagine my surprise when Mom got an email this morning stating that my three-day short story was one of the three finalists for the competition! You could have knocked me over with a feather.
Engele as Gaste is based on Hebrews 13:2 and Matthew 25:32-40. In English, Hebrews 13:2 reads: Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
In the 1953 translation of the Afrikaans Bible, it reads: Vergeet die gasvryheid nie, want daardeur het sommige, sonder om dit te weet, engele as gaste geherberg.
I’ve always adored this verse and thought that it would make a lovely short story – fiction can sometimes illustrate truth so beautifully – and now I was out of ideas, so I went to the Bible. Between that beautiful verse and my recent fascination with Dickens (Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby were both great; A Tale of Two Cities moved me to tears) I managed to scrape together enough ideas for the story.
Let’s hope it goes further! I’m excited.