5-Minute Memoir: Want to have your essay on the writing life appear in WD magazine?

The Writer’s Digest Conference is officially over, and we’re back! (Check out Chuck Sambuchino’s Guide to Literary Agents blog for a recap and some of my photos.)

Today we’ve got news on something I’m nerdily thrilled about—the new recurring section in the InkWell department of Writer’s Digest magazine: 5-Minute Memoir. Subtitled “Tales From the Writing Life,” 5-Minute Memoir is exactly what it sounds like—a personal essay on some facet of the writing life, be it a narrative or a reflection, pensive, touching or hilarious. (The debut installment, which is in our February issue currently on newsstands, features a talented young writer named Peter Jurich riffing on a writing sojourn he took, and where it is, exactly, that writers call home—and how that impacts their prose.)

We haven’t had a recurring essay spot in the magazine in some time, and I’m pumped it’s back. I think a well-crafted essay can convey as much instruction and power as a how-to piece, and on the simplest level, solid essays are just, well, damn good reading. If you happen to pen an essay on the writing life in 600 words or fewer, send it our way at wdsubmissions@fwmedia.com, and we’ll check it out for consideration in a future issue. I’ll be looking for pieces from anyone and everyone, veteran and novice, young and old, literary practitioners and genre fictioners, etc.

Also, if you missed a certain edition of WD, it looks like they’re clearing out our 2008 back issues, and have marked them down 50 percent. To check out the stock, follow this link and click “Price (Low to High).” Cover gals and boys include Diablo Cody, Brad Thor, Sara Gruen and Isabel Allende, and our features feature screenwriting, agents, literary hotspots, e-books and more. (And I admit I might selfishly want to find these issues good homes because they were the first ones I ever worked on here.)

Today’s regular (nonessay) Promptly prompt follows. Happy Wednesday.


Feel free to take the following stolen dialogue prompt home or post a
response (500 words or fewer, funny, sad or stirring) in the Comments section below.
By posting, you’ll be automatically entered in our
occasional around-the-office swag drawings.
you’re having trouble with the
captcha code sticking, e-mail your piece and the prompt to me at
writersdigest@fwmedia.com, with “Promptly” in the subject line, and I’ll
make sure it gets up.

It was a strange engagement. But she had reasons of her own for wanting to go through with it. And so did he.  

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6 thoughts on “5-Minute Memoir: Want to have your essay on the writing life appear in WD magazine?

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  2. Evelyn

    Slightly over length and extremely corny. Long live bad fiction.
    It was a strange engagement. But Dora had reasons of her own for wanting to go through with it. And so did Clifford. Clifford didn’t really want a wife. He wanted a live-in maid. Dora didn’t really want a husband. She wanted a title: Queen of Coal.

    When his father died in 2001, Clifford Snyder inherited his business, the Snyder Coal Mine in Rosedale, PA. Clifford was in a battle with Rosedale’s Environment Board, when his mom, the original Queen of Coal, passed away three months ago. That’s when Clifford, still a bachelor at 37, decided he needed a wife. Dora was his first choice.

    Dora Eleanor Wilson reigned as Allegheny’s County’s Princess of Coal in 1993. She won the beauty pageant judges over with her enthusiastic — though slightly strained — rendition of “Hero.” She went on to polish her vocal skills and win the title of Miss Pennsylvania in 1995. That’s as far as she got in the pageant system, then the Queen of Coal opportunity emerged.

    “Marry me Dora,” Clifford said after showing up in the middle of a clarinet lesson at Rosedale High School where Dora taught music.

    “I barely know you!” Dora answered.

    Her student, Betsy, set her clarinet in her lap and giggled.

    “I know we don’t love each other Dora,” Clifford continued. “But we need each other. I need a woman’s touch in my home, and you – you NEED to be Queen of Coal. And the Pageant needs you too. It’s coming up in two months, and with my mom’s passing, there’s no one to crown the winner. There must be a queen; it’s a twenty year tradition!”

    Betsy decided to join in. “You already know the pageant wave, how to smile really big for a long, long time, and how balance a tiara on your head. You’re totally the next Queen of Coal.”

    Dora’s mind was spinning. She had always felt most alive when wearing a sash and a tiara, and if she married Clifford, she’d be Queen of Coal for life. “Ok,” Dora said, “I’ll do it.”

    But while Clifford was shopping for Dora’s engagement ring, the Pageant Board voted to retire the position of Queen of Coal in honor of Clifford’s deceased mother. When Dora found out, the engagement was off.

    Clifford stormed into brass quartet practice to confront Dora and nearly dented Jimmy’s tuba when he knocked over a music stand. “I’m sorry about the board vote Dora, but marry me anyway.”

    “No,” said Dora. “We had a deal.”

    “But Dora,” said Clifford, “we’ll grow to love each other.”

    Jimmy sat clutching his tuba and turned to Dora, “You always told me if I kept practicing I grow to love the tuba, and I did.”

    “Men aren’t like tubas Jimmy!” Dora snapped.

    Clifford got an idea. Sure, he wasn’t like a tuba, or trombone or trumpet, but he could play a new public relations tune for the Environment Board, and Dora was precisely the instrument to make it a hit.

    One month later, at Rosedale Square, Dora Eleanor Snyder made her first appearance for Snyder’s Coal Mine. She wore an emerald gown, a diamond tiara and a sash that read “Queen of Green.”

  3. Tom Kappel

    The Gambler

    It was a strange engagement. But she had reasons of her own for wanting to go through with it. And so did he. And since I was the responsible for both of them having the same reason, I am here not to confess what I did.

    Money. I made a lot of it. When I was in high school the DOW was at 600. It was said then that it was triple tested and would never go higher. Ha! I got out before the .COM bust and again before the mortgage bust. So I was and am rich like Croesus. And, like him, I don’t know what to do with all the damn stuff. Which brings me again to what I did to those two kids.

    So to be quick and get to the good part or, you might say the bad part. Kitty and Ken both worked for me; Kitty in my Paris office and Ken in the New Orleans office. So, yeah, a real French and Cajun French mixture. Both were young, extremely intelligent, had the world by the tail, and neither wanted to get married right away. They enjoyed their lives. And as a people chef I put them together in the same pot.

    I told each of them that the other was not salvageable by me for my business. I gave them each lots of reasons why I wanted the other for my business, but there was too much wrong with them. I then said that I would pay a million dollars if each one could save the other—even if they had to get married to do it. And it had to happen within the new year.

    Then I explained to all my almost-as-rich-as-me poker buddies and we set up a betting sheet on when they would actually get married. You know, like the sheets they make up for sports games, only ours was set up by month and day. The pot was 50 mill to the man who had the correct month and day for the ceremony.

    And now to end this confession.

    No, they never found out about the bet. Yes, they did get married. No, I didn’t win the pot. I told you the kids were really sharp and knew the business thanks to working for me. So my poker playing buddies took the whole pot and set the two kids up in business in competition with me.

    That original bet was five years ago. Today they bought my company and forced me out. Oh, I’m still rich, but retired now. I often wonder if my good ole’ buddies had a betting sheet on how fast the kids would take over and beat me out.

    Now, thinking about this and writing it all down got me to wondering.

    You all got any good bets!

  4. Marc Vun Kannon

    I do this all the time already, on my own blog. I’ve never felt comfortable trying to write ‘craft’ posts, because I never studied the craft of writing, I just wrote. I read a lot, and I developed my own style based on what I wanted to read, i.e., no descriptive prose, dialog and action mixed instead of linear. So most of my posts are are of the ‘this is what I do and why’ variety. But I also write a good many ‘philosophical’ posts about story forms.

  5. Nathan Honore

    Two Words
    -Nathan Honoré-

    Gina loved James. Bill loved Tiffany. James loved Gina. Tiffany loved James. However, Gina is marrying Bill to spite James because James didn’t propose in the seven years they were together. James is marrying Tiffany to spite Gina for trying to spite him by getting engaged to Bill. Bill agreed to marry Gina because Tiffany was infatuated with James. It was awkward. For years, these four had been a very tight group of friends. They would do everything together. Things got ugly when Gina dumped James for not proposing to her. The proposals that followed occurred almost instantaneously. The spiteful plans were hatched, but this did not stop the group from hanging with each other: business as usual. The couples would stare longingly at the other’s fiancé. As one announced a wedding date, the other followed. Soon, the dates were upon them. James was to marry Tiffany a week before Gina and Bill.
    “Where is Bill at?” James asked.
    “He’s running late, as usual,” replied Gina. She was sitting at the group’s favorite bar in the usual dimly lit booth. Her vodka cranberry needed some tending to. James went to the bar, got Gina another and himself a Seven and Seven. He slid carefully into the opposite side of the booth. He pushed Gina’s drink towards her, then dove head first into his own.
    “Yeah, Tiff’s running late, too,” he said between gulps. He was ready for another. Gina’s eyes glanced at James as she nodded. Her gaze quickly returned to her drink. It had been six months and forty-six days since their last kiss. They played with the stirrers in their respective drinks, careful not to make any unnecessary coughs or groans.
    After a couple of silent minutes, Gina said, “ You’re really going through with all this then?”
    “Going through with what?” James replied. Gina let her mouth open a little and slid her hand two inches past her drink. James stopped playing with the stirrer and started his hand towards hers. It was about half way across the table, directly under the low hanging light above them, and Bill came through the door. With a goofy smile on his face and smudgy glasses, he waved and walked towards them. As he got close, James quickly pushed his hand further across the table passing Gina’s outstretched fingers.
    “Just grabbing her drink. Do you want a Schlitz, Bill?”
    “ I do,” Bill replied, sliding next to Gina.
    James turned and quietly said, “ Tomorrow, those will be the hardest two words that I’ll ever say…”


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