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Congratulations to The Honest Storytelling Challenge Grand Prize Winner, Colleen Alles!

By Taletha Derrington

Image Credit, Jenny Liu Zhang

The Honest Storytelling Challenge sought to motivate people to think deeply and tell a story about their concepts of and relationships with honesty and truth and to provide an opportunity to grow as storytellers, as people.

Good storytellers generate, preserve, and share knowledge across generations. They make us laugh. They surprise us. And really good storytelling offers insight that inspires the reader to continue where the author left off.

We congratulate Colleen Alles on her grand prize-winning story titled The Good China!

Colleen told a story that made me think about my own story of good china and my parent’s expectations. As her story ended, I continued it by reflecting on the similarities and differences, as well as societal structures and social norms. I laughed at the image of the meticulous garage that would make Bob Villa drool. Her story expanded my insight around motivations and symbolism attached to things. Like Colleen, I was a bit surprised at myself for keeping the china and appreciating it for what it is as opposed to what it might stand for, so I found it intriguing to follow her journey to her surprise ending.

Readers of The Honest Storytelling Challenge collection have an opportunity to understand how others experience honesty and truth in their lives, to consider similarities and differences, and to appreciate how truth is rarely pure and never simple.

Here’s a look at some of the judges’ comments about its winning qualities:

  • “This is an incredible entry, in my opinion. It's thematically relevant (staying true to self is about honesty)...”

  • “This story made me tear up at the end. I find it humorous and insightful. Even surprising!”

  • “I resonated a lot with the thoughts of the narrator and was quite moved.”

  • “ approaches the subject from a very unusual angle (it manifests the core lesson in the form of a memento to false hope).”

  • “ involves deep and complex realizations into the reality of societal expectations and personal relationships.”

  • “...I went with this one because [of] how much the story evolved, the motif of the "Good China" was so strong that I followed it clearly. My perception of the "Good China" motif changed as the story evolved; from the symbol of a failed marriage to the symbol of expectations set on the author by their parents –was deeply relatable and effectively demonstrated the change the author saw in themselves in the time period. And how much they shocked themselves!”

The author Colleen’s reaction:

“When I read the judges’ feedback for The Good China, I was most pleased to learn folks found this story relatable. While writing it, I grappled a great deal with this idea that my failed first marriage affected my parents—people who love me and only ever want the best for me. It was a hard layer to process, for me, and I was happy to learn that expensive, barely-used dishes could communicate many of the feelings that lingered long after my divorce became final.”

We encourage you to read The Good China and see what you think. Here’s a teaser:

“You can’t microwave good china.
Any good hostess would know that. But I wasn’t a good hostess, was I?
The plate didn’t appear damaged, but I felt like an even bigger failure. The plate now represented all the hopes my mother had for me and my first marriage—all the things I think she thought she was passing on.”

Read the winner here and check out the the whole collection of submissions! Tell us which story is the winner for you in our Forum.

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