How do you sum up a childhood memory in 150 words or less? Like this:
I remember a hot, crowded, wood paneled station wagon. The windows cranked all the way down to let in a desperately needed cool breeze. No car seats or seat belts, just kids piled together. Legs jumbled upon arms, across stomachs. A lucky few in the way back, facing out, making faces at the cars behind us. Bologna sandwiches, lemonade, mixed with the smell of diesel. Mom and Dad in the front. The AM radio playing the Bruins-Canadians game. The newspaper spread across Mom’s lap, her black hair tucked neatly back. A few bags of just-picked apples from the orchard safely stashed between the seats, promises of apple pie, cake, and muffins. Dad pulling off suddenly to a roadside ice cream stand, “Who wants a cone? Only chocolate or vanilla, none of those fancy flavors.” Bodies unwinding. Heads poking up. Doors opened, we tumbled out. That is what I remember.
Anne Cavanaugh Sawan of Medfield has made it as a finalist for this piece in a Reader’s Digest short story contest named “Your Life Contest,” and was even chosen as an Editor’s Pick for this story, “Sunday Car Ride.” The winner of the contest will receive $25,000 as well as have their story published in Reader’s Digest.
“Less is more sometimes,” Sawan said of the word constraint in the contest to not exceed 150 words. “I thought, oh my God, what can I write? I went back and edited and edited…”
As a mother of five and a child of 12 (yes, you read it, 12), Sawan’s inspiration derives from family living and her childhood experiences. With kids constantly milling around, Sawan wakes up early to steal alone time and write out her thoughts on her blog, as well as for established publications. Sawan has published pieces in Adoptive Families Magazine this past August as well as Adoption Today Magazine (she adopted her youngest child, Eliza from Lebanon).
Sawan began her blog, agsawan.wordpress.com
, after a publicist encouraged her to start posting, with the hope that the posts would one day turn into a book. Writing mainly for an audience of friends and family members, Sawan hopes to gain more readers with more recognition from contests such as the Your Life Contest. In order to win, Sawan must garner a heavy load of Facebook votes and win the utmost appreciation of the editors as their top pick. Having this objective eye in the competition adds an edge that Sawan hopes to earn.
“To have someone actually say, ‘this is good,’” Sawan explained, holds much more weight than “just your friends and family voting for you.”
Passionate about her children, the 45-year-old child psychologist still enjoys reading children’s books and hopes to write her own some day.
“There’s this great book out there called The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant. It’s one of my favorites…it’s kind of similar to what I wrote…it’s a big mess of a family,” she said, laughing.
All of Sawan’s writing can be viewed on her blog at agsawan.wordpress.com. You can vote for her piece on the Reader’s Digest’s Facebook website at the Your Life Contest