Time and the Commonwealth


Time fades all things and all memories, whether they are good or bad.

So, I write to remember. I document my writing journey because I know that one day, the struggle will seem less like a long and winding river and more like the smooth and steady course (Pocahontas, anybody?). One day, someone will tell me that I was lucky and I want to be able to provide evidence when I tell them that luck had nothing to do with it. Grit, man, grit.

I write today because the spectacular has happened and one day, I will not be able to access the intensity of the emotions I have been experiencing this week.

I have been shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. When I first learnt the news I was joyful and I was a little scared. I was afraid to believe it. I thought there would be a moment when they would contact me and tell me there had been some sort of error:

Dear Miss Braithwaite,
I do apologise but there was a clerical error. The story that was chosen was The Droid and not The Driver. The writer’s name is Brattaworth. I do apologise once again, but your story was not amongst the 26 chosen.

So on the 31st March 2016, when the official announcement was made, my heart was beating, my hands were shaking, and as I continued scrolling down the page and did not see my name initially, I almost fainted.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t lack confidence about my writing; but we are talking about the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. Out of almost 4,000 who entered from 47 countries, I am one of 26 people chosen. I have done the calculations – There is less than a 0.01% chance of being chosen…

On the 4th May, they will announce five out of the 26 who will have won for each of the regions – Africa, Asia, Pacific, Uk and Canada, Caribbean – and initially I wanted to wait for the announcement before writing (or not writing) this post. But then I realized, this is a win. 0.01% chance of being chosen. This means that the hours I spend writing, the writing books I’ve read, the chances I have taken, the choices I have made were not misapplied. It means the workshops I’ve led, the advice I’ve given, the posts I have written about writing were not misplaced. Being shortlisted for the Commonwealth means that my art and my style has been validated and that I have been given a new surge of energy, hope and drive regarding my writing dreams and goals.


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Oyinkan Braithwaite

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