The Writing Contest Primer

I’ve had some questions about the Blind Play writing contest, so I wanted to post this for any of my writer folks out there.

I wrote all 20 episodes of seasons one and two of the podcast, but if I want to keep this project going, I want to enlist new voices with new stories. I figured a contest would be the best way to cast a wide net.

If you have heard the show, you know the episodes vary in theme and tone. There is no standard formula. I write about people and their relationships with themselves and other people. We English teachers call it “the human condition.”

The Richard Wright quotation about powerless pawns in a blind play of social forces… well, that’s all of us in some way. That means if you have written an essay, a memoir, a short story, a play, a narrative poem, a manifesto, you have something to submit.

Then there’s the entry fee. I charge an entry fee for a few reasons:

  1. Honestly, it keeps people from just randomly entering unfinished garbage into the contest. Sorry, but it’s true.
  2. I wanted to be able to offer a $300 grand prize. It’s not a ton of money, but it’s something.
  3. The podcast is expensive to produce, and my fundraising efforts for season two fell short. I wish I could make everything for free, but I can’t.

The earlybird entry fee expires April 14, but you can use the discount code HOLDON (Get it? Hold On. You get it.) to get $10 off until the May 12 deadline.

Recently I posted about the contest on Facebook and someone commented, “They charge an entry fee. Smells to me.” I enter writing contests all the time; it’s how several of my short stories were published. I paid entry fees to enter, sometimes upwards of $60. I invested in myself and took a risk. Most of the time, the reward was a rejection letter.

I submitted the story “Little Bird” to dozens of publications. I entered it in to many contests. I was rejected by all but one. I lost all but one. Each time, I felt like I had wasted my time and money. And then I got a letter from Black Warrior Review.

A Blind Play of Social Forces isn’t a revered literary journal. It’s a podcast. Actors perform stories. And it’s effing beautiful. It’s dark, and honest, and full of love, and it’s beautiful, and I love it, and I want you to listen to it and love it. And I want some of you to write for it.

If you think, “My writing isn’t good enough,” or “I can’t afford $20” or “I don’t know if it fits the theme” or “I only have old stories” or any other excuse, wipe them away. $10 discount not enough? You want me to waive the fee? I sent Mr. “Smells to me” a fee waiver. I can for you, too, if that’s the only thing stopping you from entering. DM me. I’m serious.

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