On reminiscing about the letters he sent and received as a boy—long before the age of emails and texts—writer and editor Tony Wright had this to say
: “Letters offered a physical connection between writer and receiver that an email can never achieve. They contained dreams.”
As we reckon with the Covid-19 pandemic, Wright reminds us that there is no better time to dream—to imagine a more meaningful way of life, and to share one’s experiences and yearnings in letter form. This month, bear witness to this moment in history by writing a letter. The recipient could be an essential worker, a grandparent far away, an asylum seeker who has already lived through multiple crises, an artist whose music has kept you singing during lockdown, a parent or friend, sibling or stranger, or someone across the world in need of dreams.
Today—in the digital age—a letter is imbued with significance: a physical letter tells the recipient that the contents are to be held onto and cherished. Some would even say that messages sent through the mail are still the sturdiest form of record-keeping, bearing witness to a time and place, and documenting our thoughts and feelings at the most significant junctures of life.
This month, help us celebrate this age-old form by writing your own letter. We look forward to their delivery.
Letter Writing Guidelines:
Who is Eligible?
- THE CHARACTERS: How can you turn the letter writer (you!) and letter recipient into three-dimensional people? Can you show through your letter that characters have multiple sides? Can you include details that give your reader (us!) a sense of who these people are and why their connection is interesting and important?
- THE VOICE: We are all endowed with different voices for different topics, times, and audiences. What voice is coming through in this letter? Are you an observer? A thinker? A feeler? Through what lens are you looking at the world, and how does the relationship between you and the recipient change the tone of your letter?
- THE HEART: Why is this letter being written? What story does it tell? What message does it deliver? What question does it ask? What response do you hope to receive? Although you likely won’t answer these questions directly in your letter, responding to them in the drafting process will help you uncover what’s at stake.
- THE DETAILS: As with other genres, unusual, gritty, and surprising details are what amplify a letter’s punch. Make sure to include descriptions that will stick in a reader’s memory long after the last line.
Young writers ages 13-18
450 – 1,000 words
Br Richard Hendrick: Brother Richard is the poet behind the poem ‘Lockdown’, which has resonated with so many of us during the Covid-19 pandemic. For over twenty years he has worked to bring the insights of the Christian contemplative tradition to greater public awareness, particularly with reference to modern mindfulness theory. He served as director of youth ministry for the Irish Capuchins for over ten years and has also worked in hospital and prison relief chaplaincy roles.
What’s Different about Write the World Competitions?
- Best Entry: $100 (Our guest judge’s commentary on the winning piece, and an interview with the author will be featured on Write the World’s blog)
- Runner up: $50 (Our guest judge’s commentary on the piece will be featured on Write the World’s blog)
- Best Peer Review: $50 (Our guest judge’s commentary on the best peer review and an interview with the reviewer will be featured on Write the World’s blog)
- Prizes: The winning entrant(s) will receive $100, and the best peer-reviewer will receive $50.
- Professional Recognition: The winning entry, plus the runner-up and best peer review, will be featured on our blog, with commentary from our guest judge.
- Expert Review: Submit your draft by Monday, July 13 and get feedback from our team of experts—authors, writing teachers, and educational professionals.
- July 6: Competition Opens
- July 13: Submit draft for Expert Review (Optional. We will review the first 100 drafts submitted.)
- July 17: Reviews returned to Writers
- July 21: Final Submissions Due
- July 31: Winners Announced
Our Flash Fiction Competition opens Monday, August 3rd.
Stay tuned for more details!
The power of our writing goes hand in hand with responsibility. Make sure that you’re supporting other people through your writing rather than pulling them down.
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