I was like a cloud full and ready to rain the stories untold running through my mind. A cloud full of every good book I had read, every newspaper, magazine, stories heard and life experiences. The world was expectant of my downpour and I did not disappoint. At first, I simply loved telling stories and gaining the attention of my audience through my compelling narration. Then I put them to paper and still gained more audience and gradually, I began passing a salient message through my stories for everyone to read. Writing became my voice, strong enough to persuade my audience and yet soft enough to leave an indelible mark. Through writing, I became many things and yet my original self. I was in the minds of both the good and the bad, the victim and predator.
However, as with other spheres of life, my writing career had its shares of ups and downs, days of zero inspiration and lack of support. I was gradually losing my voice, settling at my comfort zone and not ready to challenge any more. It was at this point I met a friend. I did not take him serious when he introduced a weekly online essay competition to me. It was too good to be true in Nigeria. I smiled and nodded as I walked away, pushing his suggestion to the back of my mind because I was not ready to pour my intellectual strength to another online site that would not bother to even give a feedback. I had submitted essays too many times not to get a single feedback. I was gradually believing most were scam sites. Yet, his suggestion tugged my mind at night. When I checked the site and realized it was just kick starting, I laughed. It was a minus to me but I felt I could once more take a leap of faith. It would not hurt to try it but I did not give my all. I wanted to take a final risk on online essay competitions. So glad I did.
Nothing could hide my shock when I checked back at the end of the week and realized all essays were submitted, a winner was selected and feedbacks on some essays were shown. I was amazed. Cmonionline was not another intellectual scam site after all. Patiently reading each essay, contestants did not fail to amaze me as it seemed everyone knew his or her onions. I really wished I had put my best at the beginning and so when I saw the next week’s topic, I began my preparation. I loved the intellectual contest, the dynamics of writing styles, the information from various aspects of life and the slogan “everyone is a winner”. Cmonionline gradually became a platform where upcoming writers found home and each had a voice.
Each week was an opportunity to be better because not only was feedback given but as a writer willing to learn, I had opportunity to go through the works of others and learn a thing or two. The cash prizes won added to the financial independence of writers, a great feat carried out by the sponsors of the competition of which I am grateful. Consistency also became a norm through this platform. The prize was no longer the bull’s eye but rather the level of growing consistency among writers. Everyone worked towards putting up a piece weekly. Procrastination when writing became a thing of the past and I made sure that I had an entry to submit every week I was available. My consistency was rewarded to my surprise when cmonionline awarded a Christmas bonus to every entry on the last week of 2020. I never joked with consistency anymore not only because of the reward but because I knew its advantage. Fluency in my writing style became easy and with time, I knew my strength and weakness. Through cmonionline, I had the courage to once again venture into the cold waters of online essay competitions with more refined skills, speed and consistency.
As with other growing aspects of life, there are some areas in need of improvement on this awesome platform. More attention should be given to publicize this great opportunity and to invite other great writers. Writers who have benefitted from this platform should spread the good word. In addition to the good work and prizes from the sponsors, as cmonionline is growing, each topic area should be awarded separately. Essays on politics should be contested against one another and essays on creative writing contested against one another. This would give each essay a fair chance in its field. Lastly, a web seminar can be held regularly where invited facilitators can teach writers of cmonionline ways to improve their writing skills. I am forever grateful I was introduced to cmonionline and I’m glad I took the bold step to speak through my “pen” once again.
Osanyinro Oluwaseun, a graduate of Microbiology and currently a master student of Public Health at the University of Ibadan runs a blog on WordPress deejemima.wordpress.com