Looking to do something creative to alleviate your boredom? The Excel Writing Center is hosting their spring semester short story contest. The theme is “Air.” The contest flier calls for writers to “re-imagine the concept of air, however you wish.” As a starting point, it lists examples of air’s positive and negative connotations: from life, excitement and energy to invisibility, avoidance and superficiality.
Writing consultant Cody Reed explained via email that he and his coworkers chose the theme in the spirit of escapism and hope. “We want people who enter the contest to really dig and explore that freeing feeling,” he said.
Another reason is that “Air” fits into an elemental series of contests, following last spring’s contest theme of “Fire.” (“Avatar: The Last Airbender” fans might recognize the pattern.)
The Writing Center’s short story contests began in 2017 with “Fright Write,” a scary story contest held annually around Halloween. Between that event and the elemental contest in the spring, students can submit one short story each semester.
Reed believes creative writing is especially important and useful in times like these. “Many sources state that creative writing has a positive effect on mental health,” he said. “It’s a great outlet for those things that get us down.”
Besides encouraging healthy coping through creativity, Reed said these events are also a way for students to see that the Writing Center is a safe space to come and where creative writing is appreciated.
Like other UCCS resources, the Writing Center had to move their operations online due to COVID-19 restrictions. “We already had an online system before we had to switch, so all of our staff has had practice at doing online sessions,” said Reed. “The transition did slow us down, and it took a little bit to get on our feet, but I’m glad that we are doing this [writing contest].”
Writing consultants are available to provide support for academic writing and personal writing alike. “We know that it can be a daunting thing to bring in a personal creative piece, but I can assure you that we all act highly professional in our meetings, and we want to read what you have,” Reed added.
Those who submit to the “Air” short story contest have the chance to win a $20 gift card for first place and a $10 gift card for second place.
Both winning stories will also be featured on the Writing Center’s new podcast. “The stories will be fully narrated, and if there are speaking parts, other voices will fill those in,” Reed said.
Requirements for the short story state that it must be an original work and be 3,000 words or less. Stories should be polished drafts, without too many basic errors. All submissions are due 11:59 p.m. on May 1 to [email protected].
“Have fun with it!” Reed said. “This is supposed to be a freeing experience, so let it be freeing. Use this as an opportunity for you to really get out of your creative writing comfort zone and write something you wouldn’t expect.” For more information, contact Cody Reed ([email protected]) or Excel Writing Center Director Matthew Balk ([email protected]), or see https://www.uccs.edu/writingcenter/ to schedule an appointment with a writing consultant. The Writing Center’s online hours are Monday-Thursday 9 a.m.-9 p.m., and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.