Hey there, Wacky Writers!

Last month, we announced the results of our Crystal Crown writing competition and now it’s finally time to introduce you to our Grand Winner, Mittu (@dreamsinwords)!

How do you feel about winning?

I really didn’t expect it! When it was January 31st morning for me I told myself I’ll check the winners thread later because I didn’t believe I’ll win :see_no_evil: so when all the congratulations poured in I was pleasantly surprised!

What made you choose that specific prompt?

The first one that caught my eye was actually the footprints in the snow, but sometime later, I spotted this too. I was very curious what the letters in the arc in the photo prompt said, so I asked one of my online friends who could read Japanese. Turns out it was Kabukicho in Tokyo! I immediately decided to research more on it – I read up travel vlogs, searched up photos, and realised that it’ll make a really good setting for a short story.

I love that! I didn’t even know the picture was of Kabuki-cho (although it was the first thing that showed up when I googled ‘Kabuki-cho’ :woman_facepalming:), but I am really loving the dedication to research :raised_hands: It definitely shone through! On that note, how did you come up with the epistolary concept based on that prompt?

I’m very attuned to writing in the second person and epistolary, especially because I’ve recently read – and heavily re-read – On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous (will talk about it in my literary influences!) That book is my eternal love, and the style seems to have rubbed off me.

The idea of writing a Dear John letter came up when I was discussing with my friends what to name my characters, and someone casually joked, “name him John!” It struck me that if I did, the letter would allude to the phrase, and so I did :joy:

What was the hardest part about writing your winning entry?

The word count limit. I’m an overwriter; restricted word counts really make it hard. My first draft of my entry was over 1500 words and I had one more character in it that I axed (bye bye, I’ll probably re-write you inside if I’m not lazy) and cut out a lot of things I felt unnecessary, like some dialogue parts and repeated description.

But writing for this competition really taught me my weak areas of repetition and redundancy. I’ve realised the mistakes I’ve made in my longer-form writing (novels, novella etc.) and I’ll surely be working on editing my prose when I finish my projects and hit my second drafting process.

That is definitely a challenge and I’m glad our contest helped you with it! Reminds me of the answer I had prepared for your Tip Cauldron question, but it’s even better you figured it all out on your own! Tell us about how/when you started writing?

I remember my first story was a fanfiction of the comic series Tintin :joy: But oh boy, life had a twist for me. I thought I would write well in the action/adventure genre, but I slowly started veering away from reading superhero stories in my pre-teen to falling in love with modern contemporary and literary fiction in my early teens till now (maybe the reading for literature lessons weren’t so bad after all!)

And what are you working on right now?

I have a novel, a novella, and a poetry collection in the works on Wattpad. My ONC novella (Too Far To Forget) is getting the most love right now, considering that it’s the competition season, but my novel (The Road To America) and my poetry collection (a honey-stung hived heart) is also coming along fine!

Awesome! Speaking of which, there’s a Wacky Support Group for ONC-ers if you haven’t joined in on the fun yet, as well as a dedicated TML thread, so we can add all your ONC entries to our reading list!

Ooh! I’ll definitely check that out!

Now, tell us more about your literary influences. Any reading recommendations?

screams Ocean Vuong’s name

I stumbled upon Ocean Vuong (now my most favourite author) in the start of last year, and I’ve fallen in love with his book and his poetry. His novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous , is what captivated me the most. His style of writing and the way he captures the small moments in life – from the way the main character interacted with his mother, to how he fell in love, every moment was written so vividly, so poignantly, and with such fluidity that I was always in awe.

His poetry book, Night Sky With Exit Wounds, is also excellent. And if you haven’t realised by now, his book titles are simply amazing. Just… pure talent.

rests my case

The other books that influence my writing include The Kite Runner, One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Life Of Pi, and various other modern contemporary books like Jodi Picoult’s and others.

What would you tell your younger writer self?

Self-doubt will always be there, and you cannot see yourself improving unless someone else tells you. So stop fretting and keep writing.

What do you struggle with as a writer? What do you hope to achieve?

As a writer, I struggle mainly with discipline and self-doubt. My mental health is definitely not that great and I struggle to write every day these days, so I tell myself that I cannot go to sleep unless I write a 100 words that day. Personally, I envy those hitting 4k words a day, but I know that not everyone is the same and I need time to take care of my mental health before pursuing what I love the most, so I’m trying to stop comparing myself to other writers. It exacerbates my self-doubt so much :cold_sweat:

I think you’ve touched on one of our biggest struggles as humans, and especially as writers in this day and age when everything is just out there for everyone to see. It can be overwhelming, but you’re exactly right – the most important part is to remember we’re all different, to look after ourselves first and foremost, and never give up :muscle:

That brings us to your source of inspiration/motivation – where do you find it? How do you keep it?

It’s personally very hard to stay motivated for me, but what I do is that I start to reread my ‘comfort’ books to remind myself why I became a writer in the first place: I wanted to tell stories through words. Reading my comfort books also reminds me of my writer’s voice, and that makes me eager to write again.

Like now, for my ONC novella (Too Far To Forget), I’ve drawn a lot of inspiration from the plot and the writing style On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, so I’m rereading that book to get into the ‘feels’, you know. The vibes. It really makes me happy to reread my favorite books, so that’s a positive boost! ^.^

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, Mittu! We’re delighted to have you on the blog and once again, congratulations on your Crystal Crown. Well deserved! If you haven’t already, make sure to read Mittu’s winning entry here, give him a follow on Twitter or check out his other works on Wattpad.