This is a guest post by Katherine Cowley¸ a mother of three living in sunny Arizona. In between writing and chasing kids, she likes to gorge on books and European chocolate.
This year, I’m a guest editor for the 2016 Mormon Lit Blitz. It’s a great writing contest with a $100 prize, and we’re seeking micro-literature in any genre—fiction, essay, poetry, etc.—that will resonate, in some way, with an LDS audience.
But before I get into the details of the Mormon Lit Blitz, I want to tell you about my very first published story.
Like many LDS women, I’ve always had an urge to create. And from a young age I wanted to be a storyteller. But when I had my first child, I decided to push those dreams aside.
In 2012, when my daughter turned one, I became pregnant with my second child. And then I spent the next six months struggling with depression. I went through the motions of my life, but despite reading my scriptures, praying, and attending church, I felt very little joy.
Finally, I told my husband and my doctor about my depression, and with their help and the help of the Savior I slowly made the climb back to emotional and mental health.
During this slow climb I heard that the Mormon Lit Blitz was throwing a contest titled “Four Centuries of Mormon Stories.” At first I didn’t have any ideas. Fast-forward to the final day of the contest. I was 39 weeks pregnant and physically miserable. But I woke up that morning with the idea of a visiting teaching visit gone wrong. In a day I wrote a science fiction story set in the 22nd century about a pregnant woman waiting for her baby, waiting for the Second Coming, and waiting for her husband to come home from war. In her time of trial, she finds hope in the Lord.
My story “Waiting” was selected as a finalist in the contest. It was my first story to ever be published, and it was empowering. It was an opportunity to share my faith through the written word.
Since then, I’ve kept writing. In the last few years I’ve published a number of additional stories, including one in the Segullah 2015 fiction contest. (Of course, in 2014 and 2015 alone, I also received 27 rejections for my stories and essays. When this happens, I submit them to new online magazines or contests, publish them on my blog, or decide to save them for later.)
Writing has been a lifeline for me. It gives me joy and purpose. I now have three young children, and writing helps me process my life experiences and approach motherhood with more energy. Looking at the world with a writerly view helps me find more fulfillment in ordinary, everyday experiences.
Just as there is value in every member of the church bearing testimony or giving a talk, each one of us has stories to tell. Whether you’re a published author, an aspiring writer, or you just have one story waiting inside you, we want you to submit to the Mormon Lit Blitz.
As in years past, we’ve set a 1000 word limit. We’re open to entries that have been previously published, as long as you have the rights to republish them.
Fiction: in the past, the Mormon Lit Blitz has published everything from historical fiction to contemporary fiction to science fiction. One of our other contests even published an LDS zombie story. Within fiction, any genre is fair game.
Essays: the personal essay is a great form to explore some aspect of your own life experience. We would love to see more of the sort of essay you find in Segullah’s Literary Journal. Personal stories don’t need to have tidy conclusions or didactic messages. Often, some sort of challenge or struggle is at the heart of an essay or short memoir.
Poetry: poetry has the power to get to the heart of the matter very quickly. The Lit Blitz has published many poems over the last four years, and we hope you continue to submit your poems to us.
Other Forms: We are open to other forms—a short play or screenplay, a comic, etc. We would also love to receive experimental forms within any genre. You could write a fictional newspaper article, an illuminating grocery list, journal entries, letters, a photo essay, or a text message conversation. If you can write it, we want to read it.
Diversity of perspectives: We are part of an international church, and we would love entries that represent a diversity of perspectives, settings, experiences, and people.
If you’re looking for more inspiration, all past finalists are linked to in our call for entries.
I hope you’ll take the time in the next month to submit to the Mormon Lit Blitz. Read our call for entries for details on how to submit, and feel free to email us with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.