By Fiona Campbell/Quinte Arts Council
Why do people enter writing contests? Some enter to get practice writing to a theme or word count. Others enter to motivate themselves to finish their stories. And, of course, there are those who enter with the simple motivation: to win.
With local public health officials asking people not to gather or visit for Easter weekend, this could give writers time to dust off a languishing manuscript or perhaps write some flash fiction for Prince Edward County Arts Council’s (PECAC) 3rd annual Wind and Water Writing Contest, open to writers of the Quinte and Prince Edward County regions. Pieces can be in any genre (fiction, poetry, nonfiction, hybrid), and there is a cash prize for poetry ($200) and fiction/non-fiction ($200), plus publication in Artscene, PECAC’s monthly newsletter.
Themes from previous years explored Exploring and Memory, and this year’s call asks for submissions to examine the concept of Unity.
“Each year, a theme provides writers with a bit of a jumping off point, and something that ties the whole contest together. And it can be fun to try to fit a piece into a specific theme, so it’s an added challenge for folks,” says judge and award-winning author Kelly S. Thompson. “As for this year’s theme… It’s never felt so important for us all to come together and share our stories in a way that celebrates our togetherness instead of the many ways in which we’re apart,” she says.
Thompson launched the contest in 2019 when she started volunteering with PECAC. In response to a dearth of programming for writers, and recognizing that contests can be a great way to support writers by providing them with opportunities, she donated the first year’s prize money to launch the contest, and continues to donate her time as judge, along with writer and photographer Dorian Widling.
The response has been enthusiastic, to say the least.
“We’ve not been surprised, but have been completely delighted by the wealth of writing talent in our area. We have so many amazing writers that call the area home and so it’s exciting to see what lies beneath the published page,” says Thompson. “We’ve loved seeing nearly an equal number of submissions in poetry and the fiction/nonfiction category, and also excited by the wide range of topics and interpretations of the theme we get to see.”
In response to the question, what kinds of writing are the judges looking for, Thompson says, “Any topic or genre will do! We just want to see writers using the tools available to them–like imagery, characterization, dialogue, etc.–to tell their story the best way they know how.”
She also notes that the judging is done blind, so there is equal opportunity for new and established writers to shine.
The call asks writers to “Surprise us, delight us, but above all be brave and send in your creative writing.” I ask Thompson what is it about writing that calls on us to be brave:
“There’s always an element of bravery in submitting work because it asks you, as a writer, to take something personal out in the world for critique. It’s horribly daunting, especially when just getting started in submitting your work,” says Thompson. “So, each time you put something creative out into the world, you allow yourself to be vulnerable, which is the ultimate act of bravery.”
She adds: “The reality is that for many writers, rejection is such a large part of the life. Making a longlist or contest shortlist gives you something to pop on that ol’ creative CV, and gets a foot in the door to other publications. It’s also lovely to be recognized for your hard work, and who couldn’t use a bit of cash?”
The deadline to submit has been extended to April 15, 2021. Complete rules and how to apply can be found at countyarts.ca/wind-water-writing-contest.