With two tips for monetizing your writing + one to bolster your confidence
If you are a writer on Medium, you probably read scads of stories advising you to write and publish daily. In my opinion, that’s a tall order. If nothing else, how do you come up with ideas of what to write about? And then, how do you feel when you work earns pennies?
Addressing this exact audience, I sponsored a writing contest that was FREE to enter. I gave the writers a topic to write about, and I gave them a chance to win $50 for a story, poem, or essay of 1000 words or less. I don’t know about you, but I have been on Medium for two and a half years and none of my stories have come close to earning that amount.
I was fortunate to have my story about the contest published in The Writing Cooperative, a large publication on Medium. Further, my story was “chosen for further distribution.” With this kind of exposure, I expected lots of entries to pour in!
For those who do not enter contests because you figure you have no chance of winning, let me tell you that in the six weeks the contest ran, only five people submitted stories. Thus, the odds of winning were great!
From this experience, I offer two tips for monetizing your writing:
Find contests with no entry fee and write what they are asking for. Do this because:
- Your game plan on Medium is to write something daily.
- It’s hard to figure out what to write.
- The contest will fix that problem handily – plus it gives you a chance to win cash.
- And guess what? If you don’t win, you still have a story to publish on Medium.
- How to find such contests? Google the term, FREE Writing Contests.
Similarly, Google the term, Call for Submissions, to find magazines and journals looking for stories. Yes, I know it is so very disheartening to send in stories and NOT to get published. BUT change your mindset to include the bullet points from above. They are so important, I repeat them here:
- Your game plan on Medium is to write something daily.
- It’s hard to figure out what to write.
- The magazine/journal will fix that problem handily – plus it gives you a chance to earn cash.
- And guess what? If your story doesn’t make it into magazine, you still have a story to publish on Medium.
Here’s a Bonus Tip: Did you know that Chicken Soup for the Soul has over 250 books in print? Their topics range from A to Z such as Chicken Soup for the Adopted Soul, for the Bride’s Soul, for the Caregiver’s Soul, etc. Additionally, their website has an ongoing call for submissions for books they are planning for the future. Better still, accepted stories earn $200.00.
And this will bolster your confidence:
The final takeaway from this story is the fact that the five entries I received were vastly different. There was a letter to an ex-lover, a rant about the pandemic, a short story about a war on Mars, a poem, and a court case before a Judge Judy type magistrate. The lesson here is that when it comes to creative writing, there is no “right way.” Indeed, anything goes. Hopefully, this will bolster your confidence to write whatever it is that your inner voice tells you to write!
If you want to go further behind the scenes and read all five entries, read on. If not, read the bullet points above once again and dare to submit to a contest or magazine!
Here Are the Contest Results:
Please know that each entry had to use all twenty-eight words from the Merriam-Webster word of the day list for February, 2021. The words could be used in any order.
The winner is Annie Wood with her letter, My Dearest Barnaby. Were you to check the wordlist from Merriam-Webster you would see she actually used them in the order they were given. So, while all the entries were impressive, this touch moved her to the winner’s position.
Also, I am showing you the stories in the order they appeared in my inbox. Annie Wood was also the first writer to submit. The contest was announced on April 21, 2021, and her entry arrived that same day at 8:58 PM.
Finally, I have not edited the stories, so you see them as I received them.
Entry #1: Annie Wood, 514 words, received 4/21/21 at 8:58 PM:
My Dearest Barnaby,
Greetings from across the Universe. I was thinking of you just the other day and how you you were always finding yourself here, there and everywhere, gadabout that you are. I used to think it was just part of your esoteric nature, I never thought you the quisling type. It’s like you’d do anything to get people to think like you. The way you carry yourself, so prepossessing, difficult to ignore. You know it’s true.
But when you held me close, all those years ago, you made me feel like I was the only person on the planet who could possibly understand you. Those eyes of yours, always hypnotizing me, making me absolve you of all your sins. But now, the years have sped by making me feel as sere as the autumn leaves past their time.
You once told me that you weren’t all that as a child. You were something of a ragamuffin. But you tell me this story the way you tell all your stories, in a febrile explosion of excitement. I suppose it’s because you’re talking about your favorite subject, you. But your enthusiasm in the retelling belied the sweat droplets forming on your forehead. What were you hiding? Will I ever know?
Each time you call, I still answer. You’re in town and you wish to drop by and I allow it. But this time, there’s a caveat. I know you’re a voracious reader and I wrote a new poem titled, Nebula which limns my feelings about marriage and a prothalamion I once read. I’d like you to read it the way you once read your student’s papers. The way you read mine. With great interest and honesty.
Even if you should despise my poem, I feel our friendship, (is that what this is?) is durable enough to survive your criticism, If my poem should underwhelm you. The bond I feel with you is indissoluble and I’m not saying it to be toady. You’ve given me notes in the past and I found you to be anodyne in your comments. I wish for my work to perdure and you are a cognoscente in the matter of words and stories.
Now, to retarget this letter, I want to ask you about your love life. Is marriage all that you thought it would be? Since the both of you had attended law school I image you discussing habeas corpus in bed. Truly, I can’t fathom a better match for you. Pricilla has done great wonders where your appearance is concerned as well. She took you from slipshod to sheik. Brava to her!
Oh, this letter turned into quite a megillah, didn’t it? I hope it wasn’t too turbid and you understood my request for your assistance and you ascertained my deep respect for our relationship. Although you are my senior by two decades (is that rude to say?) you are nonetheless never demanding of your deference and for that, I am forever grateful.
Yes, you can come over tomorrow at 10pm.
Yours, (more or less)
Entry #2: Barb Dalton, 408 words, received 4/27/21 at 12:23 AM (she notes that she saw the contest for the first time on 4/27/21 and wrote her story immediately):
My Rant About Covid
(Merriam-Webster is to blame)
We are all sick and tired of social distancing and masks and can’t FATHOM how we managed to get into such TURBID times while governments try and ABSOLVE themselves from their SLIPSHOD decisions which quite frankly is a MEGILLAH that I don’t even want to regurgitate.
If there was an ounce of DEFERENCE for our elders – or anyone other than the economy – we could forgive the decisions that they have made. But no. Our elderly folks have been the biggest victims of a failure to act, a lack of personal protective equipment and a terminal shortage of staff.
The businesses that PERDURE are SERE, struggling to survive. Politicians are now seemingly nothing more than RAGAMUFFINS, who have only their own ESOTERIC selves to blame for PREPOSSESSING an ideology that they have done their best in unprecedented times. The provincial authorities and their INDISSOLUBLE decisions that seem perpetually DURABLE for months to come RETARGET focus on the Feds. They transfer blame to the higher beings, because they weren’t prepared, didn’t act fast enough or get enough vaccines into the country – let alone into arms – in a timely manner.
Politicians seemed immune to the rules, GADABOUTING outside of Canada unnecessarily despite travel bans, that were LIMNED incessantly. It was a CAVEAT that the average citizen understood. The reason a large chunk of the populous BELIE the restrictions we have endured for over a year is that governments tried to be TOADY but really just have UNDERWHELMED us. They themselves couldn’t even stick to the rules.
Quite honestly, I am sure all of us want to be in New Zealand right now or in any other NEBULA than Earth where Covid 19 ravages. I’ve often been called a QUISLING because I left my wonderful birthplace of New Zealand and VORACIOUSLY took on life in Canada. Now I am more than COGNOSCENTE that my homeland is Covid-free, living the life that seems so impossible right now for the rest of us. While my friends there are going to rock concerts and witnessing marriages with a PROTHALAMION, each day I go to work, I am tested to see if I am FEBRILE, a potential sign of the dreaded virus. We are worlds apart.
We need more than an ANODYNE to get through this. It’s at the point of citizens invoking HABEAS CORPUS because we are literally prisoners in our own homes.
Entry #3: Christine Rains, 970 words, received 4/28/21 at 12:02 PM:
THE RED WAR
I’ve never seen someone with a gun or dressed in a uniform. No one on Earth has even heard a shot fired. Yet the Red War has taken so much from us.
That crimson smudge in the night sky is where all our hearts lie. Mars left me a widow. My husband hadn’t been able to take the strain of the war. Now both my son and daughter fight so far away. No prothalamions for them. I’m the only one left wandering through our slipshod house.
Millions of soldiers. There has never been a war like it. And for what? A sere hunk of rock that doesn’t even have a durable atmosphere yet. Not that the enemy needs it.
I miss my children sitting on my lap as I read to them. Their wonder, their enthusiasm and silliness. All those cuddles which I managed to sneak in even as the ragamuffins got older. I would hold my teen daughter’s hand as she limned the drama at school. Just that simple touch, a little squeeze, and we both regained our strength to face the next day.
There was never an option for me to join them. High blood pressure and chronic migraines made me ineligible, but I serve in a different way. Those of us waiting for the war to end all have a duty just as important as the soldiers’.
My son was a gadabout but wanted to fight from a young age. The guns, the mechs, the explosions. It thrilled him to think he could help win the war. Even after his father passed, he was prepossessed, and the day he turned eighteen, off he went.
He kissed me first. A soft peck on the cheek. Despite his voracious deference, I wondered if he believed he mightn’t come back.
I touch that spot often when I look at his face. Does he miss me? Does he regret his choice?
The government won’t allow any contact with our families. A caveat in enlisting as it would interfere in their operations. Best to not worry them with concerns about home. Let the soldiers have this anodyne belief that we’re safe and happy, enjoying our quiet lives. It’s better for morale.
But what about ours? While I know my children are still alive, my heart isn’t warmed by that fact. My son has been gone over three years, and my daughter is approaching her first year.
A whole year. No amount of homemade holo-videos can ease my heartache.
I keep the house immaculate. Every day I dust and disinfect. The same routine with mindless repetition. I check the machines’ readouts, inspect the air filters, and replace empty nutrition bags with new ones. Each chore is underwhelming. The young ones may call those like me a toady, but it’s my duty, my sentence for not having good health.
My husband never sent any messages. I don’t know what he did or what he saw. I only know he died because he could no longer perdure.
His body had been smaller than it should have been when we cremated him. He’d been tall and broad with a stomach I could tickle and pinch. There hadn’t even been any plump to his cheeks when I kissed his shell goodbye.
Not that I was any better. Whenever I looked into the mirror, I saw myself withering away as he had. Except my eyes were wide and red-rimmed.
We don’t need Mars. I could never fathom why we were risking so much for it. The burrowing monsters there can’t leave the planet with no technology of their own. We could retarget our mission to asteroids and moons farther out in the solar system, even a beautiful nebula we could reach. Ones with no life in them.
And it often felt that way here. After the elderly cognoscente who lived next door moved into a facility in the city six months ago, our house was the last to remain occupied in the neighborhood. There are no new families to move in as our population diminishes. I couldn’t leave, and there was no one to come visit me. Everything I need is delivered by drone.
Not everything. Not the end of the damn war.
So I wait. I attend to my duties and wait.
The worst part is that I can see my children’s faces. The turbid expressions; the scowls, the exhaustion, the horror. No one told us that as the paralyzed soldiers laid plugged into the machines, every emotion would show on their faces. Emotions without explanation. All the esoteric laws, the indissoluble rule upon us, belie the febrile nightmare the government wishes to absolve itself of.
My children relax only when they’re sleeping. I like to think it’s because they hear me reading to them. Happy stories, great megillahs where the heroes win every time.
And though we’re not supposed to touch them, I’ve found myself more and more opening the sealed pods to kiss my son’s cheek and hold my daughter’s hand. She can’t tell me about her day nor can she squeeze back, but I can talk to her.
Families across the world are tending to their loved ones fighting in the war. Our soldiers whose minds are linked to mechs made to withstand the viciousness of war on Mars. It’s easier for them to ship millions of robots out into space, and if one is destroyed, the soldier takes on a new metal body. They serve until the war ends or their minds give out.
And so do we who are still on Earth.
It might be against the rules, it may make me a quisling where no habeas corpus can excuse me, but holding my daughter’s hand has become the only way I make it through each day anymore.
Entry #4: Tonja Betts, 362 words, received 5/12/21 at 1:42 PM:
summer be dragons
by Tonja E. Betts
summer be dragons
tipping off the winds
slitting the clay
supping spring’s bouquet
from hillsides where
and kiss the butterfly;
it inches out and closes the gate
on the renewal of earth’s slate…
day and night air is febrile
a groove for the gadabout
even the watchdog and cognoscente undress
but pre-caveats of history confess:
there is a quisling in the nebula
voracious beasts lighting the wicks
indissoluble in their season
with their heat diving so quick
beneath earth’s skin like a tick
and they perdure…engorged…
with corybantic gasps in the clip
striking the land
crisping it between the grips
and the growls of their whips;
for the esoteric wedding of
a spark and sere fields
roars a nightmarish prothalamion;
time’s megillah unpeels
to limn the limbs of the shrills
of how climate responds
in its appeals for solutions
to not be left as a ragamuffin
in man-created pollutions
waiting for execution;
where do faults lie?
experts and toadies who belie?
powerlines? ill-considered campsites?
the arsonists’ matchlights?
slipshod systems of management?
who are the dragons this time?
should any of us be absolved?
have we become too blind
and numbed up with anodynes
to behold only the goldenness of the state?
what is bigger than state’s goods
brighter than its lights
hotter than any hollywoods
is the burn of hollering woods:
the burn of acres…
of human citizens…
of animal citizens…
of wood citizens…
of ecological citizens…
and their breaths given
for our comfort and oxygen,
left collapsed and charred;
wouldn’t then all of us fall into this suction
as byproducts of this destruction?
for some this may be
an underwhelm which is turbid
but it’s enough for us to fathom
that a furnace in nature’s cervix
is not the desired life’s verdict;
nature by habeas corpus
implores us to show deference
for her great expanses,
to retarget our effort-sense,
to grow durable with merit-sense
so we’re not fractals
of when we once were fresher;
we change…climate changes
we do better…climate does better;
nature has shown she may scowl in the fetters—
there’s a butterfly
Entry #5: Teresa Lynn, 579 words, received 5/19/21 at 2:26 AM:
“She’s a quisling!”
His febrile pronouncement underwhelms me. He’d commenced his grievance before my bench in a prepossessing manner with affected deference for the robe and peruke I wear, but that did not perdure. His true nature now manifests to belie the toady. I raise an eyebrow to him, which makes him squirm but he blusters forth.
“A quisling, I say, My Lord! She has betrayed our marriage.”
“Please limn the megillah which prompts that accusation,” I say.
He looks confused until his barrister whispers in his ear; whereupon he spews a list of visitations his wife has made.
“You’ve shown her to be a gadabout, but nothing more,” I respond. “Marriage is meant to be indissoluble. Any durable union will encounter misunderstandings. Is it possible this is the case and these were anodyne meetings?”
“I can’t fathom how. Why, she even went to Mr. Grey, the sere old man who sang our prothalamion. As adultery is against the law, I want her arrested. Issue a habeas corpus or something.”
I sigh at his misapplication of the legal term and ignore his last sentence. “Have you inquired of your wife about these sojourns?”
“She won’t say a word.”
“Then I shall question her. She shall appear before me tomorrow morning. Until then we shall adjourn.”
His wife enters with him. She’s a slipshod ragamuffin several years younger than he; however, I detect a sagacious gleam in her eye.
I decide against esoteric questions and take the direct approach. “Have you betrayed your matrimonial vows?”
“Why did you visit Mr. Brown?”
“He’s a woodworker and I wished him to make a piece of furniture.”
“And Mr. White?”
“The tailor? For a special gown.”
I have a hard time envisioning her—or her husband—anywhere a flamboyant frock would be required, but proceed without comment. “Mr. Tan?”
“His daughter is a baker and my husband has a voracious appetite for pastries.”
That I can well imagine. “And what of Mr. Black?”
“His cellar is the best in town. I bought a bottle of sherry, to go with the sweets.”
“You also called at the home of Mr. Green.”
“He’s a cognoscente of cigars.”
Having deduced her motives I forgo inquiring about Mr. Gray and ask the only remaining question. “Why did you not explicate these visits to your husband?”
Before she can answer he vaults from his chair. “What do you mean? A woman don’t tell when she’s seeing other men.”
“The situation is not turbid,” I tell him. “Plainly your wife is planning for a special occasion. Now repose yourself. I wish to hear her rejoinder.”
“Why, My Lord, that’s what I was going to do tonight.” She turns to her husband and addresses him directly. “I bought the liqueur and treats and cigar to celebrate. The woodworker will make a cradle, and the tailor a christening gown. Mr. Grey was unavailable.”
Perception dawns ever so slowly on his face. He jumps up and runs to her, grabs her tightly and swings her around. They declare their love to the moon and sun and nebulas undiscovered. It takes some time to retarget their attention to the bench.
“I suppose you are dropping the case,” I say to him.
“Yes, yes; I absolve her of all gadding about.”
“There was no wrongdoing to be pardoned,” I remind him dryly. “In any case, I congratulate you both.”
This case will always be a caveat against impetuous presumptions.
It is interesting to see that the last entry has a ruling by a judge, because now I ask you to play one as well. I hope you will leave a comment – which of the five entries would have won had you been the judge?
If you like this story, you will like other things I have written. Please try my blog and/or my new book, Love, Loss, and Moving On. Thank you!
Leave a Reply