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The Little Truths Writing Contest
February 22, 2008 - 12:28pm


You may leave your contest entry as a comment to this post, or atLitPark, where you can check out some of the competition.


In honor of my revelation of my real name and previously undisclosed location, my online pals are sponsoring a short writing contest with big-time prizes.

Write a creative nonfiction story or essay, 75 (seventy-five!) words or less, in which someone reveals something, is unmasked, or comes to a new understanding. (This is most of literature, by the way.) We call these “little truths.”

Our friends at Brevity: A Journal of Concise Literary Nonfiction permit submissions ten times longer, but we like their standards for our contest:

Clear, concise, vivid prose—memoir, journalism, or lyric all welcome. Memoir and narrative are best told with scenes and detail, not explanation, and even the personal essay form benefits from image and sensory language. Bernard Cooper suggests that short nonfiction ‘requires an alertness to detail, a quickening of the senses, a focusing of the literary lens, so to speak, until one has magnified some small aspect of what it means to be human.’ We agree.

And so do we, which is nice. Here is a little truth, exactly 75 words long, from Somerset Maugham’s notebooks:

We were sitting in a wine shop in Capri when Norman came in and told us T. was about to shoot himself. We were startled. Norman said that when T. told him what he was going to do he could think of no reason to dissuade him. “Are you going to do anything about it?” I asked. “No.” He ordered a bottle of wine and sat down to await the sound of the shot.

Mr. Maugham is currently dead and therefore ineligible to win this contest, so send your own little truth along. Enter as many times as you like! Post entries as comments to this posting by midnight, Friday, March 7, 2008. By entering the contest, you agree to allow Inside Higher Ed and LitPark to re-post and archive your entry at their sites, though all rights revert to you.

Entries can be funny, sad, ironic, hip, morose, hopeful, or anything else you want them to be, but they should be both true and True.

The Judge

…will be Steve Davenport, Creative Nonfiction Editor of Ninth Letter, and Associate Director of the Creative Writing Program at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Steve’s first book, Uncontainable Noise, won Pavement Saw Press’s Transcontinental Poetry Prize. More importantly, he may be the basis for my character-foil “Rory.” Winners will be announced here at The Education of Oronte Churm the week of March 10th.

The Prizes:

Grand Prize is a $100 VISA Gift Card, courtesy of Inside Higher Ed, your online source for news, opinion and jobs for all of higher education, and the proud home of, well, me.

First Prize is courtesy of McSweeney’s, my other home: A $50 gift certificate to the McSweeney’s store, where you can find everything from magazine subscriptions to books to tattoos to the original circus t-shirt.

Second Prize is courtesy of featherproof books, a young indie publisher based in Chicago, which publishes perfect-bound, full-length works of fiction and downloadable mini-books. Get two featherproof novels of your choice and one of their “reusable, rewritable, rarely regrettable” letterTees.

Third Prize (two to be given) is the debut album of Les Chauds Lapins, Parlez-moi d’amour, courtesy of the hot little bunnies themselves.

Good luck!


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