Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Winding Down for Christmas

I leave Sunday for Christmas with family. Much as was the case with Thanksgiving, I'm not going to post much for a week or so. I need a break. This month has been stressful, making it difficult to get into the Christmas spirit. It gets more and more difficult with every passing year. I think if I had children of my own, I might be able to live vicariously through them and delight in how much they enjoyed the holiday season.

In other news, I'm revamping a memoir to submit to a contest. While my initial submission was rejected, I was encouraged by an editor to resubmit and try my luck again. The prize money is substantial. $2,000 will be given to the winner.

Over time, I've learned that writing contests depend entirely upon the individual discretion, likes, and dislikes of the judges. There are few absolute rules of thumb. Anticipating what the judges will like is next to impossible to know beforehand. In this particular contest, three separate readers will make their recommendations. Determining the winning entry will proceed from there.

I tend to write succinctly, using as many words as necessary but as few as needed. This not only confirms to a desired Quaker standard of economy, but my general outlook on life. Though I've dabbled with a variety of forms, including book and movie reviews, I mostly write short essays and op/eds these days. My posts rarely extend beyond 800 to 900 words. Succinctness is only one reason I have chosen this approach. Everyone's attention these days is divided and most people don't have the time to read a lengthy piece, regardless of how artful or insightful it may be in construction.

The memoir, however, runs to six full pages. I wonder if it needs to be longer, but I feel like I've said what needs to be said. Though I wrote many twenty page papers in college, those were academic writings, full of footnotes and citations. I wasn't necessarily aiming for beauty, more to make my arguments. The books, journal articles, and periodicals I referenced backed up my analysis and added page after page to the finished product. I'm glad those days are over.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of you. I hope you return to families who get along with each other and show each other selfless love and warm company. For those of you who find the holidays a trying time, may you find a way in your own life to build your own Christmas joy. I hope you surround yourself with friends and family capable of being civil to each other.

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