A little over a month ago while searching the internet for writing contests, I stumbled upon a new website called Midlife Collage. They host weekly short story contests to writers, there are no entry fees and you can enter as many times as you want. Winners are decided by the readers, so, in essence, the award is a Reader’s Choice award, and Midlife Collage sends the winner $50.00. Not too shabby.
In order to submit, the writer must be between the ages of 40 and 65, the short stories must be non-fiction, and must have occurred to the writer during the same age time frame. In other words, you can’t be 50 years old and write a story about something that happened when you were 10, unless it somehow ties into something that happened to you between the ages of 40 and 65.
Now, I normally write fiction – Young Adult fantasy to be exact, and have never really thought about writing anything non-fiction. I mean, I’m just a normal person living an every day life. What sort of life story could I possibly tell that would appeal to anyone?
Still, I pondered it for a few days, did some research on the company and the editor, and decided to go for it. I mean, what the heck? If I won, I could put it on my ‘author’ resume and in query letters. It would also help to get my name out there, hopefully meet other writers and authors and grow my ‘following’.
I decided to write a story about my Dalmatian, Baby. We only had her for a short time before she passed away, but she was very special to me and I thought it would be a great tribute to her and the love she brought to my life. As it turned out, the readers at Midlife Collage were so touched by my story about Baby that they voted my short story into the number one position. I was ecstatic to find out I’d won. I sent virtual chocolates and champagne to all my followers on Twitter, Facebook and posted some on my blog, too.
A couple of weeks ago, I submitted another story to Midlife Collage titled Five More Minutes. It’s about a chance meeting I had with a woman in the park and how that meeting changed my life. The editor accepted it for the contest that ran this past week, and once again, I found out today I won the ‘readers’ choice award’ again.
To say I’m thrilled is an understatement. I’ve waited all these years to achieve some sort of recognition for my writing. I’ve had poems, stories and editorials published in local newspapers, a college literary magazine, and in an anthology once, but that was so long ago and I can’t put my hands on any of them. Never have I won a contest for my writing, especially one driven by readers votes. To say the least, I am humbled by the experience and thankful to all those who voted my stories into the number one position.
Will I continue to write stories for Midlife Collage contests? Of course I will. It is a great experience, I love reading the other entries and I’ve met a couple of wonderful writers through the site.
Do I expect to win every time? No, absolutely not. I know there are better writers, better stories. I’ve been very lucky so far and the experience has been fantastic.
What would I like to say to other budding writers and authors? Don’t give up. Keep writing. Keep submitting. Someone, somewhere, will hear your voice and you will be rewarded for your dedication and patience in honing your craft. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and write something you didn’t think you could do. Believe in yourself.
To Donna Balon, editor at Midlife Collage, thank you for the opportunity and providing a venue for writers to meet and post their works. I wish you well with this website and I hope more midlifers like me get involved.
To the readers and voters at Midlife Collage: thank you from the bottom of my heart for voting my stories into the number 1 spot. I hope my words have touched your hearts as much as you’ve touched mine.
To my readers: thank you for sticking around and sharing in this fantastic news.
To everyone, have a very Happy Thanksgiving. May your hearts and homes be filled with love.
And don’t forget: if you’re between the ages of 40 and 65 and have a non-fiction short story you want to tell, head on over to Midlife Collage and tell the world about it. You may end up with a Readers’ Choice Award, too!