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Sunday May 27, 2007

Inspired writing


By TIFFANY MARIE MERVIN
brats@thestar.com.my
 

THE phrase “Helping Hands” could mean anything from lending a hand to those in need or even about the kind souls at a charity organisation, but the creative interpretation of an 18-year-old won the hearts of judges of the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Lianne Letitia Ritchie’s idea of “Helping Hands” was the story of one that helped without hands 

“I wanted to write a story that contradicted the title given and I came up with the story of a character without both his arms,” explained Lianne. 

Given her strong admiration for the disabled, it was most natural for Lianne to have such a character star in her story. 

I CAN’T BELIEVE IT: An ecstatic Lianne poses for the camera during the interview.
“I am very compassionate towards the disabled, especially those who have physical disabilities. I really respect them,” offered Lianne. 

Upon coming up with the idea, Lianne asked around for input. 

”I told my dad about the story and he laughed because it contradicted the title,” Lianne explained. 

Nevertheless, she went ahead with the idea and started jotting down parts of the story during her free time while serving at the National Service (NS). 

“I wouldn’t have entered the competition if a friend had not called and informed me of the competition while I was at camp,” said Lianne. It was not difficult for her to juggle her camp activities and writing. “I wrote whenever I had time in between activities. 

I’m the kind that isn’t easily distracted when writing so that helped a lot.” 

Besides finishing her story, Lianne had also managed to write a few songs while still at camp. 

“My friends at camp knew not to disturb me when I was with my notebook, and that’s how I got so much writing done,” said Lianne. 

After returning from NS, Lianne allowed a few people to read through her finished essay for errors. 

“Although I had finished the story at NS camp, the editing was done when I was home but the first part of the story was left unedited,” beamed Lianne. 

Lianne had submitted an entry for last year’s competition in which she won the Merit Award. Her story was another contradiction but of the title “If I could change the world”. Although she did not bag the prize for that story, it did not deter her from submitting an entry again this year. 

“I would only submit a story if I’m sure it’s good and since I felt this story was good, I saw no harm in submitting it,” said the Hospitality and Tourism student, who was the editor of her high school magazine. 

She is also a BRATs, having joined The Star’s young journalist programme last year. 

“I would love to try travel journalism since my writing style is more towards narrative with lots of descriptions.” 

Lianne with her parents during the prize giving ceremony where she read out her winning entry.
Lianne’s passion for writing and her compassion for the disabled have earned her and her mother a trip to Dublin. 

“This trip will be a long awaited family holiday. We’re trying to arrange for my dad to be in Dublin with us,” said Lianne. Of all the places she would be touring in Dublin, Lianne had listed a ninjutsu dojo as the place she is looking forward to visiting. 

“I love martial arts and I’ve been doing ninjutsu for some time so I’m really interested in visiting the dojo there,” explained Lianne. 

For Lianne, the news of the win have yet to sink in. 

“I still can’t believe I won. I did not expect to win at all,” says an amused Lianne.

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