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 Treat Yourself To The Board Prize 
by Ken Burrows
(October 2009)

The Cadbury’s Chocolate national essay competition got me started. I was twelve. I’ve been writing for competitions like a kid after chocolate ever since.

The Cadbury essay competition, an invitation to elementary school kids to organize thoughts and feelings on a matter of fundamental importance in their lives – candy – was my maiden foray into serious, competitive writing. And I mean serious. I no longer have that essay (can’t think why; it was just 55 years ago), but to this day I remember brandishing hot words like “sojourn”, “endeavor”, and “destination”, and even deploying, with a precocity that must have staggered the judges, a semi-colon. I do not recall that I wrestled much with the ethical dilemma of flattering a company whose product I adored and whose rewards I sought.

I wrote. I submitted. I won. The chocolate prize was as nothing – even the Fruit and Nut – compared to the glory, the presentation of a certificate by Mr. Armstrong our headmaster at morning assembly, and the special significance of the morning hymn, “Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer” that somehow rang for me.

As contest chair for CWC, I secretly submit to everything – even though I don’t send my submissions to the judges – and measure myself against the winners. The question, “Will awards in competitions strengthen my portfolio for getting published?” is irrelevant to me. Submitting is all. In a hectic working and family life, where there is little time even to write regularly, pointing to a competition, finishing something, sending it in, then forgetting it and looking to the next competition: that makes me a writer. Not the odd items very occasionally published after disproportionate labor and joyless and time-consuming inquiry laced with disillusion. Not that. But the surging hope of a new competition, reliving the Cadbury triumph, Bread of Heaven.

I’ll write an essay, story, and poem for the Board Prize, our new contest exclusively for our members who have not yet triumphed but will. I can’t send mine in. But you can send yours. Warm up on the Board Prize competition and help get our newest contest off to a great start. Then settle in for the long run in the rest of the year’s competitions against all comers. Check out the contests page for the rules, and contact any of the judges or me with questions or for encouragement.
And whatever you do, write.

Charlotte Writers Club

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