Finding Something Friday: Essay Contest and Cool Networking

Just very quickly going to remind you that if you have a burning desire to win an essay contest, but you don’t want to pay an entry fee, you still have time to enter the annual Funds For Writers Essay contest (no fee). Of course, you can also enter the annual Funds for Writers Essay contest (fee) as long as you have five bucks and can finish your essay by midnight on October 31st. The theme for this year is “diligence” and so may I suggest that you diligently set your butt in the chair and get writing those 750 words (or less).

And if you’d like to get in on some online hobnobbing with agents, editors and other writers, you might want to zip over to this spot and sign up for the WAE Network (Writers, Agents and Editors). I don’t know much else about this network except that it’s launching soon.

Somehow, I thought it had something to do with Kelly Milner Halls. But when I zipped over to her website, I didn’t see anything about this new network. What I did see, and what THRILLED me to my toes, was her new book, In Search of Sasquatch.

As I happen to have a burning desire to meet Bigfoot (or a Bigfoot), I’ll be rather busy reading all the stuff on her site. But you all should probably start writing that FFW essay.

Tuesday Tips on Column and Essay Writing

This past weekend, I attended the Harriette Austin Writers Conference in Athens, Georgia in order to give my brain a good kick in the creative writing seat of the pants (Um, I kinda mixed body parts/metaphors there…you can see why I needed a refresher course or two). So I attended a session called, “So You Want to be A Columnist” presented by Mr. Wally Eberhard, Professor (Emeritus) at the University of Georgia.

Now, here’s a funny side note. I strongly suspect that the Beneficent Mr. Hall may have taken a class from this fine professor during his stint in the Henry W. Grady School of Journalism. When I asked if he (the Beneficent Mr. Hall, that is) remembered this gentleman, he said, “Uhhh. The name sounds familiar.” Mr. Hall probably heard his introduction, right before he (the Beneficent Mr. Hall, that is) fell asleep.

I, however, listened very carefully to Wally Eberhard. Because even though I’ve been writing columns and essays for a long time, I think it’s easy to get in a bit of a rut, and forget the essentials. So here’s a few timely reminders when writing columns (or essays):

1. Engage the reader early! (Don’t take up valuable words, beating around the bush. Most columns are around 600 words)

2. Tell a story, when possible. (Make sure you have that beginning, middle and ending component)

3. Know the MARKET you’re writing for. (This is easy if you’re writing a Chicken Soup for the Soul essay on a specific topic, but not so easy if you’re writing for magazines or newspapers. Do your research before you write!)

4. Read other columnists and essays. (How often do you read really fine essays? Be honest, now. Yes, I thought so. Which is why I’m including a special link for you.)

We know how important it is to read in order to be a better writer. And yet, we often skip that reading when it comes to essays. Wally suggested this link where you can find 15 of the best columns ever written. Of course, you might want to nose around the rest of Columnists.com; it’s full of great information and interesting reads.

So, I’ve got some reading to do. Because I’ve also got some writing to do.