If you don’t enter, you can’t win.

Feeding the Writer with Kim Hooper: The culture of writing–everything from books to contests to nurturing the muse

Sorry, I just sounded like my dad with that headline.

What I’m talking about is writing contests. Traditionally, I do not enter, and there are three good reasons for this:

1. They’re expensive. One submission can set a poor writer back about $25 (and sometimes up to $50).

2.  They’re too narrowly focused, with descriptions like, “A prize of $1,500 will be given to a 52-year-old South Carolina poet who looks like Martha Stewart and writes a haiku (in Japanese) about time spent in prison.”

3.  I’m lazy and/or extremely rejection-sensitive. Still, I want to enter writing contests. I see pictures of winners in Poets & Writers magazine and I want to be those people. So, if I ignore #3 (which is necessary in this business), then my goal is to find writing contests that don’t cost me much ($15 is my max) and actually apply to what I write. Here are a few contests with deadlines in November and December:

Because I know someone who actually won this contest, so I’m fairly certain it’s legit:

Glimmer Train Press Short Story Award for New Writers
A prize of $1,200 and publication in Glimmer Train Stories is given quarterly for a short story (500-12,000 words) by a writer whose fiction has not been published in a print publication with a circulation over 5,000. Entry fee: $15. Deadline: November 30. www.glimmertrain.org.

Because the prize is big, and it’s Writer’s Digest:

Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition
A prize of $3,000 is given annually for a short short story (up to 1,500 words). A second-place prize of $1,500 is also awarded. The winning works are published in a Writer’s Digest publication.  Entry fee: $15. Deadline: December 1. www.writersdigest.com/competitions.

Because it’s a well-respected literary magazine:

Boulevard Short Fiction Contest for Emerging Writers
A prize of $1,500 and publication in Boulevard is given annually for a short story (any length) by a writer who has not published a nationally distributed book. Entry fee: $15. Deadline: December 31. www.richardburgin.net/boulevard.htm.

Of course, if you happen to be a 52-year-old poet who lives in South Carolina, looks like Martha Stewart, and knows Japanese, good luck with your haiku.