Short and sweet took on new meaning as BYU students rose to the challenge of Short Édition’s inter-university writing competition.
On a chilly December morning, Kassandra Schreiber, a graduate student in BYU’s Comparative Studies Program, refreshed the webpage one more time. A couple weeks before, she had received an email that she was a finalist in Short Édition’s Long Story Short writing competition, and this was the day that the winners would be announced. As the page loaded, and the winners’ names appeared, she saw that she had won the juried prize for the poetry category. “It was the most acute joy I felt in a really long time,” Schreiber noted.
After becoming home to two Short Story Dispensers last semester, BYU students were invited to participate in an inter-university writing competition sponsored by Short Édition, the publishing company behind the dispensers. The competition that writers like Schreiber faced was steep, with 13 other schools, including Harvard and Carnegie Mellon, participating; but BYU students came home with eight of the eighteen juried and public category awards. And because BYU had the most student submissions of the thirteen schools, with an astonishing 272 stories, Short Édition is awarding campus with an additional Short Story Dispenser.
But the contest did more for student writers than simply provide an opportunity for publication. Many students who entered had never submitted their writing to a competition, and this contest gave them the opportunity to share their work with family, friends, and other students around the nation.
I felt strongly about this poem . . . the world needs to see this one
Schreiber, commenting on the poem she wrote, titled “Lost in the Interim,” said, “It took a long time to write; it came together in snippets. I thought of the lines or the images at different points, and then there just came a time when I was able to tie them all together." And even though she was a bit nervous about submitting, she remembered, “I felt strongly about this poem, like, this is a good one, the world needs to see this one. I really loved it.”
Schreiber wasn’t the only BYU student surprised by their success in the contest.
When Aliah Eberting, a senior majoring in English, first heard about the Long Story Short writing competition, she was a bit apprehensive about submitting her work. But once she went to the library and used a machine for herself, she was convinced. “I got one from the library and it was super fun—it was like a free present. And that's what made me excited to submit.”
Eberting ended up submitting entries for all three categories of the contest—fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. “The stories I submitted had just been sitting in my documents for a couple years or more, and I wasn't doing anything with them, so it was a fun opportunity to put them out there in the world. It’s always satisfying when other people read your writing, and, of course, it was super fun to go through and read other people's stories too.”
For the public category of the contest, students were encouraged to share their work online and with family and friends. Eberting, who took this challenge to heart, reflected, “That was kind of a big step for me because writing has always been something I don't talk about with other people . . . but it was really a good experience to see that people were actually excited to read my stuff.”
Over two thousand people read Eberting’s work, and with over seven hundred “likes” between two of her stories she was awarded two prizes in the fiction and nonfiction public category.
Writing can be one of the most rewarding activities in and of itself, but it’s even more special when you get to share your hard work with others. Hundreds of people have now read Schreiber’s poem, and she commented, “I'm just glad that it’s resonating with people, I think that's the power of writing and poetry: that even though the specifics of what you identify with change, knowing that someone else out there also had this same feeling is really reassuring. So, I hope [my poem] can bring people comfort that they're not alone.”
On behalf of the College of Humanities, we would like to thank all the students who submitted stories and made it possible for BYU to add yet another Short Story Dispenser to our campus. And congratulations to all those who won prizes for their submissions:
Lee Schwartz, “The Trees Have Eyes,” Juried Winner, Fiction
Jesse Richmond, “Solomon’s Lines,” Juried First Runner-up, Fiction
Aliah Eberting, “Angel Blinks,” Public First Runner-up, Fiction
Lucas Zuehl, “Attempt,” Juried Winner, Nonfiction
Tyler Slade, “Ashes to Ashes,” Juried First Runner-up, Nonfiction
Aliah Eberting, “Castles in the Sky,” Public Second Runner-up, Nonfiction
Kassandra Schreiber, “Lost in the Interim,” Juried Winner, Poetry
Brennen Serre, “Flying Fire,” Public First Runner-up, Poetry
You can read their submissions and others here.
—Heather Bergeson (English, ’22)