SparkNotes Blog

Announcing the SparkLife Identity Essay Contest!

Here at SparkLife HQ, we’re straight-up story goblins, and we want yours. We want to hear about what saved you, or what you saved. We want to hear about what kind of monsters you are, and what kind of monsters you love, and about the time you led a dance to Monster Mash and saved the big Halloween dance (seriously, if that’s ever happened to you, please tell us about it). We want to hear about your weird brain—because everyone’s brain is so wonderfully, uniquely weird! We want to hear about the time your heart felt like an Instagram-famous puppy soaring through the air toward a basket of dreams, or about the time when it felt like a decomposing jellyfish that has never gotten an Instagram like in its whole life-cycle.

To put it less fancifully, we want SparkLife readers ages 13 to 21 to write us essays about seeking, finding, losing, or embracing your identity! 

This could mean anything from discovering your gender or sexual identity to coming to terms with being a Slytherin, a band geek, or a Twilight fan. We’re keeping it broad to encourage the greatest diversity of stories!

For some great inspiration, check out Elaine Atwell’s recent SparkLife essay, “True Story: I Realized I Was Gay At 19.”

WE WILL ACCEPT SUBMISSIONS from December 15, 2015 at 8 am (ET) through 11:59 pm on December 30, 2015. We will publish announce the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners (along with publishing them on our site) on January 15, 2015.

AND, OF COURSE, PRIZES! The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners will receive $150, $75, and $50 respectively (in the form of Visa gift cards). Here are the basic guidelines:

  1. Original essays only! Your words. Your stories.
  2. Essays need to be 500-1000 words long.
  3. Essays are written by ONE writer. Sorry, no collaborations.
  4. Essays shouldn’t contain anything inappropriate. Use your best judgement, and keep it PG-13.
  5. Essays should be a reflection of your own experiences. When you want to tap into universal feelings and experiences, look to the specific! The more YOU, the better.

Detailed rules for the contest to come! For now, though, get writing!