Two of my favorite writing contests are wrapping up this October. You have until the first of the month to enter the Missouri Review’s Editors’ Prize Contest. $5,000 will be awarded to the best fiction, essay, and poetry. Meanwhile, you have until October 31st to enter DIAGRAM’s Essay Contest, which is open to all types of essays such as those “in an expansive sense, meaning essay as experiment, essay as heterogenous and sometimes strange or unruly beast.” That contest’s prize is $1,000 plus publication.
How did Herman Melville’s friendship with Nathaniel Hawthorne affect the writing of Moby-Dick? It’s a hard question to answer with any certainty, but Patrick James Dunagan gives it a shot, drawing evidence from Erik Hage’s book on the authors’ relationship. You could also read Hester Blum’s argument that Moby-Dick is the greatest American novel.
Year in Reading alumnus Alexander Chee writes about the impulse to write fiction, his first novel, and unpublished manuscripts in an essay for the Center For Fiction’s Why Fiction Matters series. “The first story I ever invented for public consumption was in a book report back in grade school. I had made a vow to read every book in my grade school library, and at some point, as I made my way through them, I remember very clearly understanding that there was simply no way my teacher would know about every book ever published—this was before the Internet—and so I decided I would make one up and see if she noticed.” Pair with this Millions piece, featuring six writers looking back on their first novels.