“The ‘Write’ Type of Competition,” Ensign, June 1993, 65
When it comes to helping members develop their talents, the Greeley Colorado Stake has some choice words to offer.
The stake’s writing contests began in 1990. Response to the second annual writing contest, in 1991, was gratifying—eighty-five entries, more than double the number of the previous year. Although the number of entries dropped to sixty in 1992, leaders still felt the activity was a winner because of its effect on the entrants.
Jane M. Choate, who coordinated the 1992 contest for the stake, reported that a number of writers who participated in 1992 “told me they wouldn’t have done it if not for the contest. One young boy who entered said he had never written anything other than a school assignment before.” Several entrants expressed gratitude for the opportunity to stretch themselves in writing; before the contest, many had never shown their work outside their families.
The stake’s competition includes categories for fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and music. Judging is done by members of a local Latter-day Saint writers’ group who live outside the stake. Then, at a reception honoring all of the contest participants, some winning entries are read.
Cindy Newell, then of the Fort Collins Colorado Stake, coordinated the judging in 1991 and helped in 1990 as well. “I was impressed not only with the number of entries last year, but also the quality of the writing,” she says.
Finding time to write is like finding time to do anything else, entrants in the contest say. “I make time,” stresses Jeannie Lancaster of the Big Thompson Ward, winner in the adult poetry division in 1991. “The contest provided the encouragement I needed to get writing again.”
Her feelings were echoed by Janet Buck, also of Big Thompson Ward, who won the adult nonfiction category in 1992. “The contest gave me a reason to write. I was always planning on it; now I’ve done it.”
Carol Rehme, of the Loveland Second Ward, shared her love of poetry with her son Kyle and encouraged him to enter the 1991 contest. A high school freshman, Kyle had never written a poem before, but “In Season,” based on his love for the outdoors, won first place in the twelve-to-eighteen poetry division.
For the 1992 contest, Sister Rehme decided to write a children’s song, something she had never done before. She wrote both words and music. Her song won first place in the adult music category.
Personal and family histories were the source for many of the entries. “Sharing traditions with my children is one of my reasons for writing,” says Mary Danielson of the Loveland Third Ward. Sister Danielson draws from her childhood for inspiration in many of her stories. “The contest gave me a reason to expand my ideas.”
“Writing is one of the quieter gifts from our Father in Heaven,” says Sister Lancaster. “I enjoy hearing others share the things they have written and the insight into their lives it provides. It is wonderful to see how many people have a love of writing.”