Santiago in 100 words: short story competition launches again

Budding writers have the chance to win US$3,800 in the 11th edition of this popular literary contest.

It’s often said that a picture is worth a thousand words, but sometimes all you need is a hundred. That’s the thinking behind “Santiago in 100 Words,” a popular competition that invites residents of Santiago to submit short stories reflecting different aspects of urban life in Chile’s largest metropolis.

There is only one real rule – all submissions must be 100 words or less – and with a CLP2,000,000 (US$3,800) cash prize awarded to the winner, there’s plenty of incentive to get involved.

Begun in 2001, the competition has become an iconic part of Santiago life, with the best entries displayed inside metro carriages and collected in pocket books. Over the past decade, over 285,000 tales and vignettes have been submitted to the contest – profound and light-hearted, poetic and prosaic, the stories range from the exalted themes of love and community to the monotonous humdrum of everyday existence.

And now it’s happening again. Earlier this week, official sponsors Metro de Santiago and mining group Minera Escondida launched the 11th edition of the contest at a ceremony in downtown Santiago.

To mark the launch, a group of local actors read out submissions from previous winners and 100,000 copies of a small booklet containing the top 100 entries from 2009 and 2010 were handed out at the Baquedano Metro Station and the Gabriela Mistral Cultural Center (GAM).

In the past, prizes have been given to the stories in first, second and third place, along with a people’s choice award and a prize for the best young writer. This year, organizers are introducing two new categories in a bid to encourage people of all ages to participate: the Children’s Prize for participants under the age of 12 and the Older Talent award for people over 65.

Entries can be submitted through the competition’s website before the March 9, 2012 deadline.

Below is the people’s choice winner from 2010 (unofficial translation in English followed by original in Spanish).

One more day
Daniel Carrasco Ruiz-Tagle, 35, Vitacura

I get up and walk silently towards your bedroom. I don’t want to wake you. I open your door. I see you, I smell you, I tuck you in, I kiss you. Bus and train. Jostling and office. Screen. Emails. Orders and hurrying. Coffee and I think about you. Telephone. Telephone. Telephone. Hot dog and red tape. Paperwork. Glances. I scratch my head. Meeting. A cigarette. Meeting and cookies. A joke, a friend and the clock.

Turn off the equipment. Bus and train. Jostling and home. I walk silently towards your bedroom. I don’t want to wake you. I open your door. I see you, I smell you, I tuck you in and I kiss you. Tomorrow will be another day.

Un día más

Me levanto y camino sigilosamente hacia tu dormitorio. No quiero despertarte. Abro tu puerta. Te veo, te huelo, te tapo y te beso. Micro y metro. Empujones y oficina. Pantalla. Mails. Órdenes y apuro. Café y pienso en ti. Teléfono. Teléfono. Teléfono. Hot-dog y trámite. Papeles. Miradas. Me rasco la cabeza. Reunión. Un pucho. Reunión y galletas. Un chiste, un amigo y el reloj.

Apagar equipo. Metro y micro. Empujones y casa. Camino sigilosamente hacia tu dormitorio. No quiero despertarte. Abro tu puerta. Te veo, te huelo, te tapo y te beso. Mañana será otro día.