Competition. If you’re like me, you were raised to find something a bit unseemly about it. That’s a girl thing, part of the suite of rules like don’t stand out, don’t make waves, don’t be unattractive.
But you know what? Competing can be healthy. It challenges, motivates, and occasionally rewards your best efforts.
High on my contest win earlier this week (Make Love Not War on Womens’ Memoirs) I’m ready to encourage you to test your writing skills in competition.
Memoir (and) is a nonprofit literary journal publishing traditional as well as nontraditional forms of nonfiction allied with memoir. Contest entries can be submitted in any genre of prose or poetry, to compete for a grand prize of $500. Prizes are also offered for graphic memoir (“comic book” combinations of words and pictures) and photography.
Prose submissions must be maximum 10,000 words; Poetry maximum 5 poems any length; Graphic memoir no more than twenty 7” x 10” pages, Narrative photography up to five images. Submissions cannot have been previously published. You’ll find the rest of the submission guidelines here.
No get to work! You’ve got a winning memoir essay in you. Face down your inner opponent, the one who says “no you can’t,” and get it out.
WISH I could say I’m ready. Rewriting 120,000 words…I know…eye-poppping…is a chore-like discipline, but so worthwhile, for stripping and honing and focusing and discarding are the valuable tools used to dig out the story so wrapped in too much detail. To really mean what you say and say what you mean, taking the reader (who is now me) to the finish without losing them down some rabbit hole where they won’t meet you anyway. Discovery is the wonderful payoff of rewrite. Seeing the difference between where I thought I was going and finding where I actually got. Skinnied down now to something even I can navigate revealed the true thing I’m trying to say, hidden so well, even from me. The process is cathartic, painful, tedious, and uplifting. I find myself saying aloud, “Yes….here is what happened; this is why; there, I’ve actually said it”.