Story sharing takes courage, courage to remember, to speak, to listen. In writing, our stories can thrive and maybe even touch the lives of others. But writing itself takes an immense amount of courage. As author Ta-Nehisi Coates said, “I strongly believe that writing is an act of courage. It’s almost an act of physical courage.”

Our stories define, enliven, and enrich our culture. And now more than ever, we need the courage to set our stories free. Courage is defined, “The ability to do something that frightens one; bravery.”

While staring down autumn and young adulthood, we got to thinking about courage. We realized that if we could give ourselves—and heck, everybody— one skill that could help us live into our own stories, that skill would be courage.

Then, about 24 hours later, we experienced a coincidence. The kind of coincidence that makes everything align for just a moment: in the American Library Association’s (ALA) news we found a story contest, and its theme was courage

In the ALA press releasePublic Library Association (PLA) President Monique le Conge Ziesenhenne explains her hopes for this writing contest, “Our national writing contest provides an authentic experience for writers and readers to reflect on their own courageous moments… Librarians know the value in connecting writing and reading creatively; those who write read more, and those who read write better. Our hope is for this contest to further connect residents with literature, local libraries and each other.”

Apart from the opportunity to grow and share courage and a cash prize, this contest offers a chance to participate in a futuristic form of storytelling: to be published by Short Édition in a Short Story Dispenser.

We hadn’t heard of Short Édition or knew what a Short Story Dispenser was. So we did what we had to do, we researched. According to their website, “Short Édition’s aim is to adapt literature to the modern world by combining short literature, the community and technology. In this way Short Édition uses passion and humour to inspire the community of readers and authors who dare to like short stories.”

Earlier this year PLA and Short Édition partnered to bring their Short Story Dispensers to the US, four libraries were selected to participate in the project to bring short stories to the masses.

These magical kiosks are positioned around four cities in the US and offer an island of escape in the midst of a busy life. Select a one, three, or five-minute story and it almost instantly appears printed on a scroll, of eco-friendly paper.

The contest ends on Tuesday, October 30, 2018. So, get right to work, click here to get all the details!

Need a little help getting started? We did too and so we looked to a favorite writer for some insight, watch this short interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates: 

“I always consider the entire process about failure, and I think that’s the reason why more people don’t write.” Watch Creative Breakthroughs with Ta-Nehisi Coates

Do you need the courage to write about courage? We’ve found that a prompt can really help, give ours a try:

  • First, sit down and take a deep breath and congratulate yourself for taking the time to write!
    • Take a second to recall a memory about courage. It can be an extremely vulnerable memory, most memories about courage are. 
    • Then take this memory, this story of yours and set in a faraway land, a faraway time; turn yourself into a thing of fiction.
    • In ten minutes, write down the memory, in poem form, in story form, in screenplay form, in any way that works for you.
    • Edit your writing:
      • rewrite and edit again, over and over until what you have resembles about 70% of what is in your mind (sage wisdom from the video above).
    • Then share your story with someone who hasn’t experienced this memory. And ask for a story in return.

If you share your story on social media, please tag us @LookWonderDiscover and we’ll look out for your story –because that’s what we do, we look, we wonder, we discover.