1. Dresdener Kurzgeschichten-Wettbewerb zum Thema "Stottern"

1st Dresden Short Story Contest on the Topic of "Stuttering"

What was/is it all about?

On the occasion of the 35th German Congress for People who Stutter, held in Dresden/Germany from October 2-5, 2008, I had the quite spontaneous idea - one week before the beginning - to call out a short story contest. In the beginning I asked for English articles on the topic "What would I do if I would not stutter?" or alternatively "I do all the things I would like to do even if I stutter(sometimes) ...". 5 days before the award ceremony I extended the contest also for contributions written in German to make the participation of people possible who are not so familiar with English. 

There were no restrictions, except a possibly understandable language and an amount of words between 400 and 1000.

Despite the fact that the call out was quite short-termed there were four contributions from four European countries and four nationalities, all written in English (there were no entries written in German). I would like to use the opportunity to thank all participants not only for their help but as well and particularly for their dedication to the idea behind the whole thing. Since I was not successful in finding a jury I decided to give all four contributions the 1st Prize.

Apart from the four official contributions there were two more articles. One - written in 2004 - fits the topic in a brilliant way, the other one from the person who had called for this contest, i.e. myself. Both are so to speak "non-competitive" or to say it a bit more friendly "within the additional programme".

The pronounced money of 25 € which was part of the Prize was donated by the winners for a social project for financially challenging children in Kolkata (India). Thank you very much for your help. 

I would like to wish all visitors of this site interesting motivations, inspirations and insights while reading the contributions.

Michael Winkler ... Dresden, October 5, 2008


Worum ging/geht es?

Anlässlich des 35. Deutschen Kongresses für stotternde Menschen, welcher vom 2.-5. Oktober 2008 in Dresden stattfand, wurde von mir spontan - eine Woche vorher - ein internationaler Kurzgeschichten-Wettbewerb ausgerufen. Zunächst waren englischsprachige Beiträge zum Thema "Was würde ich tun, wenn ich nicht stottern würde?" oder wahlweise "Ich tue all die Dinge, die ich möchte, selbst wenn ich (manchmal) stottere ..." angefragt. Das Thema wurde dann 5 Tage vor der Preisverleihung auch auf deutsche Beiträge erweitert, um auch dem Englisch nicht so vertrauten Menschen, eine Teilnahme zu ermöglichen.

Es gab keinerlei Beschränkung, außer eine möglichst verständlichen Sprache und eine Wortanzahl zwischen 400 und 1000.

Trotz aller Kurzfristigkeit gingen vier Beiträge aus vier europäischen Ländern und vier Nationalitäten ein, allesamt in englischer Sprache (es gab keine Beiträge auf Deutsch). An dieser Stelle möchte ich die Gelegenheit nutzen, den TeilnehmerInnen nicht nur meinen herzlichen Dank für Ihre Mithilfe auszusprechen, sondern ebenso meine Hochachtung vor dem Engagement für die Sache kundtun. Da ich bei den Anfragen nach einer Jury nicht erfolgreich war, habe ich mich entschlossen, allen vier Beiträgen den ersten Preis zu verleihen.

Neben den vier offiziellen Beiträgen gibt es zwei weitere, einen das Thema ebenso hervorragend treffenden aus dem Jahr 2004 und einen vom Auslobenden, d.h. von mir selbst, verfassten. Beide laufen sozusagen "außer Konkurrenz" oder etwas freundlicher auszudrücken "im Rahmenprogramm".

Das ausgelobte Preisgeld von insgesamt 25 € wurde von den Preisträgern für einen soziales Projekt für finanziell benachteiligte Kinder in Kolkata (Indien) gespendet. Herzlichen Dank dafür.

Ich wünsche allen Besuchern dieser Seite beim Lesen der Beiträge interessante Anregungen, Inspirationen und Erkenntnisse.

Michael Winkler ... Dresden, 5.10.2008

And the prize winners are ... und die Gewinner sind:

What would I do if I would not stutter? by/von Anita Blom

What wouldn’t I know and learn about life if I would not stutter? by/von Sebastian Frenzel

What would my life has been if I did not stutter? by/von Irina Papancheva

What would I do if I would not stutter? – What a stupid question by/von Paul Martin Schmidt

Congratulations! ... Herzlichen Glückwunsch


Two more articles were within the additional programme ... Zwei weitere Artikel kamen ins Rahmenprogramm:

A stammer: a curse or perhaps... a blessing! by/von Nara Miranda

If I would not stutter … I would maybe stammer by/von Michael Winkler



Photo: private

What would I do if I would not stutter?

by ANITA BLOM (anitablom(at)telia.com), born in the Netherlands,
living in Götene/Sweden, October 2008



I have no clue as I don’t remember how it was like to not stutter. There is no way to know ‘what if’ as I cannot go back in time or look into the future. Some things I think I can guess, or even know, for sure anyway: I would not be where I am today. And I wouldn’t have missed out on events that colored my life. 

·     I would have had to pay for my flight. I booked a flight on the internet for a stuttering conference in Vienna. When I got to the airport my name was not on the list, but the check-in lady checked me in anyway, as I did have my ticket in my hand. When I checked in in Vienna, my name was not on the list this time either. The check-in lady there showed me that I booked a flight for February and it was March now! I explained that the lady in Gothenburg hasn’t seen that either and let me through, but this lady claimed I should have checked my ticket before I left and the flight was full so I would have to stay stand-by and buy a new ticket. So, after a weekend of stuttering and hardly any sleep, I started to stutter real bad and suddenly saw the agony in the lady’s eyes because of all my stutters, so I added some jerks and put my stuttering into the top gear and guess what: she panicked and suddenly there was a place available, free of charge! (The fact that I was seated next to a drunk, terrified and pee-smelling guy is a totally different story.) 

·     I would not have had this job. After facing almost all of my fears there was still one left: school. I gave speeches to all, from pre-school children to EU politicians, but giving a speech to teachers, in a class room, still brought me to my knees. So I registered for a school for adults. But there I discovered I couldn’t get any grants. Unless… I ticked the box whether I have a disability or not. I did tick the box and wrote down I stutter. And got a two-years’ scholarship. These were two amazing years and both students and teachers were so supportive, they cheered me to reach the highest grades and I finally dared to talk to them about my stutter. I cried when I graduated. A few weeks later they called me. They reread my goodbye poem where I explained how important these years and these people had been to my stuttering self and heard stories from other students on how I helped them. So they asked me to be a teacher. I got to work with computer courses for the elderly and when they heard it was only a temporarily job, they went to the principle asking to make me stay, as I was patient and could explaining in a slow and clear way (to reduce my stutter). And I’m still there, now teaching IT, English and Swedish. I’m also the janitor, although I’m totally left handed… 

·     I would not always have something to talk about. Since I advertise about my stutter, I’m never bored. When I want people to talk to, I simply ask where they are from and when they return the question I tell them I’m on my way to or returning from a stuttering meeting (which I mostly am…) or somehow bring the subject to stuttering. From this I can angle the conversation to stuttering, speech and disability, but also to travelling, family, friendship, values or life itself. And with my stuttering buttons always on my jacket, I can choose to either hide them or show them, depending on how interesting (or handsome…) the person next to me seems to be. Sometimes it can even bring a smile or an eyebrow lift on a custom guy’s face!

·     I wouldn’t have been this proud of myself. I love to travel, but was told not to even learn languages, as I wouldn’t go anywhere anyway. Today I travel all over the world, THANKS to my stutter, to attend and speak at stuttering conferences. I have people envying me for yet another meeting or conference, while showing pictures of people having so much fun. And even my daughter’s friends try and pretend to stutter to be able to join a children camp after hearing all those stories.

·     I wouldn’t have the great friends I have today. I would never have known that people who stutter are such strong, amazing people, going for their dreams, being so supportive and such true and honest friends.

I would be one of the crowd. Normal, like most people. Maybe even a pain in the butt, as I might talk everyone’s ears off, boring people with my stories and jokes, not being aware of my flaws. Not being able to accept other people’s flaws.

Stuttering poisoned my life in so many ways, especially my youth and social life and I still have moments I curse it out loud, wishing there was a magic pill, as stuttering makes me have to struggle through life. It often stops me from doing and saying what I want to, stops me from being taken seriously and makes me have to prove myself in so many situations.

Some days it’s hard to stutter, some days it’s ok. But it’s a part of my life and I would feel strange without it, as I too would miss all the things I do and the friends I have today.  My stutter, as well as the difficulties I had to face because of it, did turn me into a strong, self confident, stubborn woman who won’t allow anyone to stand in her way anymore, after years of blood, sweat and tears. But please, if I ever lose my stutter, don’t pick it up.

Keep talking.
Anita S. Blom


Photo: private

What wouldn’t I know and learn about life if I would not stutter

by SEBASTIAN FRENZEL (saxophonfrenzel(at)web.de), born in Germany,
living in Graz/Austria, October 2008


Well, Michael just called me, and asked for a short story about stuttering. "What would I do if I would not stutter?" a very hypothetical question. But one thing is for sure. I would not sit here at my computer, and I would not have to be so spontaneous to write about stuttering. Ten years ago I was still afraid and ashamed of only talking to family members and close friends about that "stuff". It was a no-no for me. I wanted to get rid of the problem by myself. As fast, as soon and as long as possible. And as few people as possible should know that I am a "stutterer".

But after a while of unsuccessful and dissatisfying efforts I came more and more to the conclusion this can not be the right way to handle my little handicap. But then, after a long time with the support of many people it didn’t vanish, but it was more and more only in the background. Not really important anymore. And the best thing: the fear is gone away, not the stuttering. It stayed because it is a part of my personality. And sometimes I even like this part. Because it shows me a way I can also manage other problems. So, I am back at the topic of my short story. Many people would assume it is only an advantage not to stutter. But that is not the only truth. By concerning myself with stuttering I have learned a lot about myself. And I am still learning. To respect myself, to question things, to open my mind for new experiences.

And therefore the question "What would I do if I would not stutter" is not so appropriate. The better and more optimistic question is: "What wouldn’t I know and learn about life if I would not stutter". To be honest: I cannot imagine stuttering is holding me up to do what I want. Not anymore. Sure, there are moments of hesitation in front of a big challenge like a radio transmission or a big dissertation. But, wait … five years ago I made a radio show, even live. So, it is not really an obstacle, I guess.

What I have learned meanwhile is to see it as a challenge ... Well, in the end I think this is always the right direction!


Photo: private

What would my life has been if I did not stutter?

by IRINA PAPANCHEVA (ipapancheva(at)gmail.com), born in Bulgaria,
living in Brussels/Belgium, October 2008


Scenario one. 5 p.m. Two hours left to the performance. Make up, hair dresser, changing clothes. I am gradually becoming Elena, my character. She is a kind of strange. Eccentric, hysterical and on the top of it has a stutter. The audience just loves it, always laughs so much. But then these crazy guys from the stuttering association appeared with their protests and letters, insisting to skip the stuttering. My character was…how did they say it…abusing their dignity. How can art abuse someone’s dignity? That’s ridiculous. Fortunately, no one paid attention to them. W-w-w-what’s the time?

Scenario two. “Camera. Start!” “Good evening, dear ladies and gentlemen.
I am standing in front of the house of the 23-year boy who committed a suicide this morning by taking a big amount of pills. The police have not made an official statement yet but it seems that the reason for his suicide was his classmates bulling because of his stuttering…” Oh, my God, it’s cold. How long are we going to hang here in order to make a story? That is what my editor, this ambitious bitch, said: “I want a story for the late news”. First the parents, but they are under shock yet and not really willing to talk. Then this woman from the stuttering association…Yes, there happened to be one, big surprise, why do these people associate? To stutter together? And this boy, taking away his life for such a silly thing, stuttering, it’s not a big deal and who, the hell, cares, when there are much heavier life circumstances. Terrible, terrible wind!

Scenario three…
The options of having a life without ever having had a stutter are infinite. What would my life have been? Different. Not better and may be not worse. Just different. Stuttering has an impact of our life but does it influence our essence? Would I have been a totally different person if not had a stutter? Who knows…For sure I would not have experienced the wonderful meetings with lovely people from the stuttering world. And may be I would not have been so interested in psychology. I would not have got involved professionally with the disability sector. I would not have experienced the most amazing adrenalin of all of facing your fears and going through them. The happiness of “Oh, I did it again!” after speaking in public or giving a presentation, stuttering but still satisfied. May be, may be…

8 a.m. One more day of my life as a person who has a stutter starts. One more day of the life of the person I am.


What would I do if I would not stutter? – What a stupid question

by PAUL MARTIN SCHMIDT (pm_schmidt(at)gmx.net), Chemnitz/Germany, October 2008

 Well, what would I do if I would not stutter? What a stupid question I thought when I read it for the first time. Only people who do stutter can write about it, I then thought. So, maybe I should just do it … it’s is late night, after midnight and I have no idea what to write. Well, Jean-Jacques Rousseau once said something like that: the best love letters are the ones when you have no idea before what you will write and what you wrote once you have finished it. Maybe I shall write this article in this mood … hmm, a love letter on stuttering or even to my stuttering? What a stupid idea. Yet, some stupid ideas turn out to be the best once in the end, maybe.

When I was 14 or so, I wanted to learn playing the guitar. Maybe I wanted to be “cool” and to sing songs at a bonfire. The girls would like me, I thought maybe. I bought guitar … finally, when I was 30 years old. The girls of my youth were then ladies … some maybe married, some maybe with children, some would maybe not even remember me. And still I cannot play the guitar, since I had no time to learn it. Okay, right, I haven’t taken time to do so … nothing is impossible if you really want it, many people would say.

When I was in my mid 20s I wanted to play theatre to make fun about this and that; maybe not really theatre, more a cabaret kind of thing. Some things are on the first sight quite serious and important. When I looked at them from a little distance they appeared to be quite ridiculous suddenly. Why not earning money with that? In Chemnitz you find so many things of this kind. And if I would have earned enough money with that I would travel around the world and would collect stories from everywhere ... and would make more money even. Maybe I would find the same stories like here in this town, this city … this funny city that had the name “Karl-Marx-Stadt” for almost 40 years.

But, to travel around the world I have to learn languages. I was always afraid of doing something wrong, still I feel insecure very often. People might laugh at me or would not like me. I wanted to learn good French, proper Spanish and maybe “real” Russian, not this school-Russian that contains mainly words about my life and how to use Russian grammar. And after that I would learn Portuguese, Polish, Albanian, Italian, Czech, Swedish, Chinese, Hindi and all the language of the places where I would like to travel to.

But so far, so many other things are important to me. Doing my job and having a party from time to time with drinking and smoking. The next day, I have forgotten my big plans. Hmm, maybe I shall start today to make a change. Maybe this stupid question was not so stupid. Okay, I think this is not really a love letter to my stuttering but at least I have showed it or him or her (well, what sex is my stuttering?) that I do not hate it. I may not love it yet, but at least we have something like an arranged marriage. I can cope with her (okay, it is female now) and she seems to cope with me as well. Hmm, well maybe I shall ask my stuttering what she would write if she would be asked “What would you do if you would not be married with this guy called Paul?”






Photo: private

A stammer: a curse or perhaps... a blessing!

by NARA MIRANDA (naramiranda(at)hotmail.com), born in Guinea-Bissau,
living in Brighton/Great Britain, written in 2004


Struggle, shame, embarrassment, pain, anger, frustration, sometimes many tears? I wonder if you are familiar with these feelings.

My name is Nara. I'm 32 and I have a severe stammer. I moved to England in 2001 from Portugal. I was born in Guinea-Bissau, in North West Africa, but moved to Portugal when I was nine and I have lived there since.

The other day, not long ago, I was talking with my friend William. William is also a stammerer. We are part of this self-help group of four people, and we all live in Brighton. We usually meet once a month for a drink, for a bit of a laugh and, obviously, to talk about our speech and how we're coping with it. Last month, however, there were only William and I. We talked about how having a stammer has affected our lives. We both felt that we would definitely have made so many different choices in life than those we have chosen and that, somehow, we would have made more positive choices had we not had this thing called a stammer.

I suddenly realised that I have always viewed the stammer as a curse in my life. How could I have felt it any different when, at every step of the way, I find all those negative feelings I have just mentioned on the lines above? But I also realised that I have never actually stopped to think where I would be in life (at 32) had I not been a stammerer. Now I find myself reviewing my life as a stammerer, and reviewing that strong concept of this being a curse for me.

I have always been fortunate in that I have never encountered anything other than patience and understanding with my speech - as a child, a teenager and as an adult. Even now at work, where I was meant to be dealing with telephone work as part of my job, my managers and colleagues have accepted that perhaps it can be distressing for me to use the phones, and they are happy for me not to do it. They know that I can make up for it in other ways, which I do. I am forever grateful for this, but it makes me wonder if I have the right to impose this kind of understanding on people because of my speech. But this is another matter. I should add that I'm sure I have had a few bad experiences with people because of my stammer, but again they're too little to be worth mentioning.

So, if other people can deal with my stammer so positively, why can't I? If everyone accepts that I have a stammer and that it is part of who I am, why can't I accept this simple fact myself and live with it? I am learning now that this is what I should do as well.

England has been hugely significant in my process of self-discovery, self-development, and self-acceptance of who I am - the way I am. England has also meant coming across the British Stammering Association. I never thought such a thing existed. An organisation to help and support people who stammer; the most amazing thing! I have also realised that I'm not the only person who stammers. I have met people, so many more than I could expect, who are stammerers and can share exactly how I feel. This is a great support. And, of course, I have made new friends with people who stammer. And this is also very special to me.

Today, as I reflect on all this, I'm tempted to choose another word to classify my stammer: no longer a curse, but perhaps a blessing, because while this 'condition' has brought a lot of pain, it has also brought many fantastic experiences! The stammer is something I should cherish, accept, and of course always work towards improving it if I can. But it is definitely something I should be proud of because it is what my history as a person, as a woman, as a human being, is made of. It is the history of each one of us.





Photo by Allan Tyrer (BSA)

If I would not stutter … I would maybe stammer

by MICHAEL WINKLER (michael_winkler(at)gmx.net), Dresden/Germany, October 2008


Saturday, October 4th, 2008. I am sitting on my laptop, it is 5.59 pm, and there are just 3 hours left until I would make the contributions and winners of the first Short Story Contest on Stuttering public, on the occasion of the Gala-Dinner of the 35th German Congress for People who Stutter in my “hometown” Dresden. Well, right now I think – having an old song of Hot Chocolate in my mind – that everyone’s a winner. I could not find people for the jury so far, but I have four and a half contributions. The half was a text – in my eyes wonderfully – written by a friend four years ago. She had no the time to modify it according to her feelings and thoughts of today or write a new one, since my appeal was a bit short-termed. I will be in some kind of dilemma, and to get out of dilemmas you need easy solutions. So, any contribution will be given the 1st price and the promised money will be shared by the “four and a half” people. I am the only jury member, easy decision-making … is this dictatorship in democracy?

But what was the problem? Was the time left really too short? Was my PR not efficient enough? Were 400 words too much for a week or even only 3 days? Well, there were people who made it possible, even without much practice in English. Was the topic too much out of the world? I don’t really think so, since we all share the same “problems” and challenges somehow. Other things might be more important than stuttering that might be, so even the offered money was no incentive, I guess. Okay, it was not a big sum, and maybe it even held some people back from writing, I just wondered. Well, we are not journalists who have to write almost every day to make their earnings; and they cannot even choose the topic most of the time. The world or their bosses give them their topics.

Thinking about the reasons, why people had no time to contribute although they talk and write about the things they would do if they would not stutter I then thought that I shall try on my own. How can I ask others if I myself would not be able to answer this question?

So, I made myself a glass of coffee and took a footbath (it’s getting a bit colder in Dresden nowadays) and started to write. That I have taken so many words to come to this point shows one of the problem itself. How to find the right words? With somehow being “under pressure”? But, what’s the problem? No-one knows that I write these lines. I myself put myself under pressure. No-one else. Isn’t it somehow the same with stuttering or stuttering while speaking?

I came across so many topics when thinking about the title of this contest which was in fact inspired by a friend of mine somewhen within the last years when she sometimes talked about all the things she would do if … And since this contest is mainly initiated to make people write in English I was stumbling again over a crucial question. What in fact is stuttering? The English-speaking people might have been confused, since they have at least two words for that: stuttering and stammering. I prefer to use the American term “stuttering“, since it is – linguistically – closer to the German word “stottern”. “Stammering” which is used in British English sounds like the German word “stammeln” that in my opinion is a rather misleading term for  Germans. “Stammeln” sounds like being unsure what to say, even not even knowing what to say. It can be referred to the very nice German term of “Wortfindungsschwierigkeiten”, meaning difficulties to find the proper words to express what one wants to say. Regarding this I would consider stuttering as a psychic and stammering as a mental challenge.

In the end, is it the fear of stuttering that makes us “people who stutter” eventually stutter? If there would not be fear within us maybe we would “stammer” or “stammeln” or we would speak fluently? I have no clue, but isn’t that always the point we reach sometimes: simply having no clue about a thing? So, we may rather wait a bit and be sure that one day we will know.

What I right now know is that my footbath doesn't feel so nice anymore, since the water is almost cold. My coffee is finished, and the laptop clock shows 6.34 pm. I shall get ready for the Gala-Dinner, printing out the contributions and … well, 775 words. Was it really difficult? Hmm, don't things sometimes come out almost automatically if we just give it a try?

I do believe so … and I am thankful that some people took their chances to give an almost impossible thing a try … they are really winners for me.


Created on/Erstellt am: 07.10.2008, letztmalig verändert/last changes: 26.10.2008