Devil’s advocates speak up: June/July writing challenge results

 In Writing Challenge

Some excellent responses to our June/July challenge. Remember, we asked you to play devil’s advocate with regard to some belief you hold dear, and write a conversation in which a character argues as persuasively as possible against your cherished conviction.

Leader of the pack was Jennifer de Klerk, who pitted rationality against passion to excellent effect. Jennifer wins a literary assessment of 5000 words of her writing. This could be in the form of a mini book report on the first 5000 words of a manuscript, a short story or a piece of creative non-fiction.

Runners-up include Sarah Woodward for some very clever dialogue – and a great twist in the tail; Mikhail Peppas for arguing against the proposition that “feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings”; and Bindi Davies (again!) whose penultimate line qualifies for a prize all on its own.

And for all you others who pitted yourself against your own best arguments, (however politically incorrect you might have seemed) well done. It’s great practice!

Read the winning entries below, and check out our August/September writing challenge, where we urge you to try your hand at cliffhangers and possibly win a literary assessment from us!

Jennifer de Klerk – Sex-texting is still cheating

“Your brother is cheating on me and you say it’s no big deal?” I was furious, pacing up and down the room.

“Well, he didn’t actually have sex with her,” she pointed out, placidly grooming her fingernails, “so it wasn’t really cheating.”

“We’ve been in a committed relationship for almost two years; that means we are committed to each other and we don’t look at anyone else!”

“Come on, you’re not engaged or married,” she said calmly. “He’s still allowed to look. After all, he’s a guy. Guys do these things.”

“He chats up a girl he’s never met on WhatsApp. She sends him pictures of her boobs, and he sends her pictures of his naked body – he won’t tell me which bits. Then he has a shower, perves over her pictures and gets it off. That’s OK?”

“Well, it was just pictures, not even Skype. He was only having a bit of fun.”

“What about commitment, what about trust? What about me feeling like a wet dishrag because I’m obviously not good enough? I gave him everything, EVERYTHING.”

“For goodness sake, Maya, you are totally over-reacting. Men are hunters, they need to spread their seed around. It’s perfectly natural. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you. He simply got a bit carried away in the heat of the moment.”

“Right! So, you believe I should forgive him and go on as though nothing happened?”

“Well, face it, Maya. Nothing did.”

“You’re SO wrong. He betrayed my trust. It’s over!

Sarah Woodward

“So… you’re letting strangers raise your baby?”

Not this again. I raised my head to meet her eyes. Her face was cold.

I hiss back at her “Daughters of working mothers completed more years of education, were more likely to be employed, earned higher incomes.” – I had learned this verbatim from an article in Time Magazine. “She will thank me one day…”

Her dark eyes were full of anger: “But what about today? She wants you at home today. The children of mothers who return to work in the years before they start school have slower emotional development and score worse in reading and maths tests.” She smiled, “I can also memorise convenient quotes from articles”

Why did she have to be so cruel? “Well, I want her at home too, but we can’t always have what we want. I have to go out to work!”

She looked triumphant, “You don’t have to… you want to. You want to be far away from her, you want to feel that freedom, that relief from the constant neediness. You want to feel like someone other than just a mother.”

I screamed “How dare you? What is wrong with that? How dare you judge me?!”

She whispered: “You don’t really love her. Admit it.”

I stopped, stunned, cold. I loved my baby, I loved her. Why was this so difficult? Why was she so hard on me all the time?

I turned and walked away. Left her in the mirror where she belonged.

Mikhail Peppas Oilless – H2O

Okay, okay so I’m guilty.

Very guilty.

But the same goes for you.

Oh yes – smart aleck – what are you getting at?

I’ve seen you – observed you closely.

Seen me? – Seen me where?

At the counter.

Oh no. Not that bank thing again – that teller admitted her mistake.

Not the bank – the supermarket! Always asking for an extra packet – a plastic packet at that!

Guess you haven’t heard of wash and reuse. Or ever tried to manage without a few extra packets. Shop more often.

Oh yeah! Look at the health problems you’re having.

Next it’ll be beeswax coated shopper bags.

That can be used at least a hundred times.

Plastic addict.

Paper freak.

For your information 60% of all plastic from the 50s is sitting in landfills somewhere near someone.

I live alone – you try without clingwrap – paper hides what’s inside.

Worldwide the mantra is ‘Reduce Reuse Recycle’ – the world can’t take it.

Ha! Paper in a water scarce country – trees are the culprit – drinking mountains of water every minute.

But at least they are natural and biodegradable.

So is oil – and the planet has stacks of oil – oil saves water.

And then there’s desalination from our lovely oceans.

But have you considered the mountains of salt produced? Where does all that salt go?

The cheapest route. Back into the ocean, killing all the marine life. Wherever it’s dumped back.

Two bamboo straws please, waiter.

Trust that comes with a petrol coupon.

And a small glass of Day Zero.

Bindi Davies – People should adopt rescue dogs rather than buy puppies from breeders

“She’s cute.” Megan points to the one with sparse hair and a warthog tail.

“Doesn’t look too kiddy-friendly to me. I think we should order a Labrador puppy from those people in Dullstroom. You can’t go wrong with a Lab.”

“How can you even consider it?” She marches in front of me, kicking up dust between the rows of cages. “Look at all these needy, abandoned dogs.” She stretches her arms out wide.

“Look, Megs, I want a dog for Matthew that I know is going to be gentle. And he’d love a puppy. These dogs are mostly fully grown.”

“This little guy needs us.” She stops in front of what looks like a cross between a poodle and a wolf, spiky ears poking ominously from its teddy bear face. “Just look how adorable he is.”

“Megs, what if seven years ago, when you were so desperate to have a baby, I’d said no.” It’s my turn to spread my arms to the sky. “How can you possibly think of having your own child when Africa, the whole world actually, is full of orphans needing adoption. We wouldn’t have Matthew. We’d have Sibongile or Rafiq or Yu Yin.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. We’re talking about dogs, not children.”

“But we can’t let all the best breeds die out.” I turn to the wolf poodle, who’s now licking his arse with a rubber tongue. “Imagine if all dogs ended up like him?”

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