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  • Stephanie Fitzpatrick

How a Writing Contest Continues to Help Me on My Journey - #50PreciousWords

Updated: Mar 3

I have wanted to be a children's author for as long as I can remember, but as an elementary teacher and then an assistant principal, it was hard to consider a world outside of a school building. But about two years ago, the thought finally crept in that I could design a business doing what I love - creating activities and curricula for teachers and librarians and helping them bring beautiful books to life for kids - all while working from home, giving more time to my two little boys, and building greater connections in the KidLit world. In June 2023, I took a leap. I left the school building where I worked for 16 years and formed The Book Links!

But how does that connect to a writing contest? And where does it fit in on my journey? Well, a few years ago, I came upon KidLit author Vivian Kirkfield's website and discovered her writing contest, #50PreciousWords. Can you write a story with a beginning, middle, and end in just 50 words?! At first, I was too nervous to enter the contest. Although I had been getting good feedback on my writing from some local critique buddies, I wasn't ready for my writing to be, "out out" the world. And 50 words...that's tough!!!

But in 2022, I was considering alternatives to working at my school, and decided it was time to garner some courage and start putting myself, and my writing, out there. I entered #50PreciousWords and got some positive comments on my story. I entered again in 2023 and was an honorable mention. Now, with more encouragement and a friend by my side to help me cut words line-by-line and talk through the structure of my story, I am happy to share that I am submitting a 2024 entry!

Most of my writing is based on personal experiences, and this story is no different. My childhood up to adulthood was spent with my mom and I moving in with them when I was 2. Although my grandpa passed away in 2021 at the age of 98, I am still able to spend one or two days a week with my 97-year old Granny. My love and admiration for them run deep within my veins and writing stories that incorporate some of our experiences is how I know I'll keep them with me forever.

Take a look at my 2024 #50PreciousWords entry here and then go take a look at all the other amazing writers taking a leap this weekend and putting their writing out there for the world to see! Click the image below to visit the contest site and check it out!

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