Homer Alaska - Opinion

Story last updated at 7:42 PM on Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Congratulations to those who dare to write ... and write

Nobody ever thinks, "Hey, I want to be a brain surgeon," and takes up a scalpel and starts cutting. Lots of people, including too many celebrities, think they can write poems, short stories and novels without too much effort. Worse, publishers actually buy their work, just because their name is Snooki and they've been on reality television.

You don't need to go to college or a master of fine arts program to be a writer. You don't need a certificate or license to write. Common men and women have written great literature. Of all the arts, writing is the most accessible. If our schools have done the job right, we all graduate with the ability to write coherent sentences.

Being a writer? Trust those of us who make our living at the craft of words: it's not as easy as it seems. To be a good writer you have to read — that's essential — and you have to write, write and write again. Most of all, you have to be willing to do the hard work and make the commitment. You have to dare to put thoughts on paper.

Today, the Homer News and the Homer Council on the Arts honors those who have done the hard work, made the commitment and dared. We're proud to announce the winners of the 19th Kenai Peninsula Writers' Contest, a collaboration between the News and HCOA. (See the full list of winners on page 9). From new writers in kindergarten to elders, writers and poets took the time to create and enter more than 360 pieces of literary art. Congratulations. You took the risk not only to let others read your work but also to judge it.

For those who won, congratulations, and for those who entered, thanks for daring. We know the exhilaration of winning and the disappointment of losing. Ask any writer about trying to get published, and you'll hear tales of woe. One writer we know was almost ready to give up. She burned her rejection slips, which must have worked, because a few months later she sold her first novel.

This week, and for the next two weeks, the Homer News publishes the winners in each age category for fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Honorable mentions will be printed online in PDF format at www.homernews.com. You can print those stories out for reading without computers or, if you have one of the new e-book readers like the iPad, Nook or Kindle, in an electronic edition.

Contests like this are only the start of what we hope will become long and satisfying careers for these writers. Even if you don't make the New York Times bestseller list, we hope Kenai Peninsula writers will take satisfaction in continuing to perfect their art.

We'd also like to honor those writers and poets without whom this contest couldn't happen: the judges — both on and off the Kenai Peninsula. They took time in their busy lives to evaluate the contest entries and encourage new writers. That's the most precious gift — strangers taking an interest in our writers and poets. Thank you for helping us out, and when you do visit Homer, stop by so we can thank you in person.

Even as publishing goes through great transformations, writing endures. Today we honor those who keep literature alive. We wish you great success as you keep on writing — and writing, writing, writing.