Yes We Can winner announced! Guest judge Nick Thorpe considers the lost art of saying 'Yes'...
12th February 2015
“Yes”. This is a powerful little word. One word, three letters, but a whole wide world of meaning. Yes carries the weight of expectation on its shoulders. It signifies acceptance, acknowledgement, agreement, and opportunity. Of course, it can also signal more nefarious times – “Yes officer, those are indeed my clothes” – but really Yes is the very embodiment of optimism.
In my mind, our society today is far too happy saying “no”. No, I won’t go out because I want to watch TV. No, I won’t try that because I don’t understand it. No, I don’t like that. No. No. No. Once upon a time the world was the greatest thing we had ever seen. True, we were two and at that point bogeys were pretty impressive too. But the inherent enthusiasm and creativity of children is something we all too readily lose as we fall into line in the Grown-Up World.
I find our habit of saying no, and our increasing reluctance to say yes, indicative of a society that is quietly rebelling against a quiet revolution. We have never, ever before had access to so much quite so easily. And yet the pinnacle of this technological and sociological achievement is cat videos and limitless pornography. Thank heavens the two have not met yet.
Saying “yes” is a luxury that many of us enjoy yet few truly appreciate. It may sound trite to say that we live in a time when we can do anything, go anywhere, or experience anything, but it has never been truer. So why do we not say yes more? Fear? Embarrassment? Comfort? Laziness, perhaps?
I’d love to say my work as an author and writer takes me around the world, but it doesn’t. Writing is poorly paid and, sadly, increasingly poorly regarded. Which is why sites and initiatives like this are so valuable. The democratisation of the internet may have brought Gangham Style into our lives, but it has also diluted arguably the greatest and most important art form. We need to celebrate great and creative writing and to say yes to those that put themselves and their art out there to be judged.
My first honourable mention this week goes to “Maybe We Can”. This short story beautifully weaves narration with suspense, no mean feat in such a short space. The hook at the end is splendid and left me aching to read more.
My second honourable mention goes to “Can We”. I am a terrible, awful, borderline illegally bad poet, but I found this piece both haunting and moving. The style is reminiscent of a great orator, and I found the imagery powerful.
My winner this week brought a lump to my throat. “One Step At A Time” is a beautiful, moving piece of writing. It fiercely captures the essence of the theme, and by the end I felt utterly at the writer’s whim. The author takes us on a journey, and in the space of a few lines paints a portrait of words that has you rooting for them. Marvellous storytelling.
Nick recently said “Yes” to a whole year’s worth of new experiences, a project he called “52 New Things”. Over the course of a year, he sought to turn off the TV and life a little bit more interesting. From small beginnings, the project quickly escalated and he soon found himself walking over broken glass, breaking world records, living on a boat, trying hovercrafting and even writing, recording and releasing a Christmas single. His hilarious, life-affirming book detailing his experiences is out now, and a must for anyone looking for inspiration to try something new – pick up your copy here. Find out more and connect with Nick at www.nickthorpe.com