It’s practically Solstice

So of course spring has finally sprung where I live. My tardy dogwood is blooming (a month after every other dogwood here has lost its petals) and the lavender is budding up. I’ve moved my home office out to the porch and hung the sun curtains to keep myself from burning to a crisp while I work. Summer’s not my favorite season by a long shot, but I won’t deny it’s nice to sit out in the warm wind with a cool drink while I read and vote on the week’s entries.

But it’s not all about the popular vote at YeahWrite, folks. We also have our editorial staff picks to hand out. See, while there’s a popular vote winner every week, we don’t always give out a staff pick. Our editors comb the grids to find, not just the best writing on our grid this week, but what we think is pretty darn great writing anywhere anytime. Picks are based on writing quality, how successful the author is in conveying information, and just plain style. If you got a staff pick this week, grab your badge from the sidebar and wear it with pride!  The great part is that we don’t have a finite number of picks to hand out. That means that if two, three, five, or even all the works on one grid are fantastic, we can give them all kudos.

The other benefit of the editors’ pick, of course, is that unlike the popular vote we’ll tell you why we liked that post. So don’t just skip reading the blurb if it’s not about your post; you’ll pick up some handy pointers about what makes good writing great that you can apply to your own work. For more of that critical feedback, keep an eye on our Roundup for a quick rundown of trends we see each week. We try to highlight the good stuff and point out problems that more than one writer is struggling with. There’s probably a handy tip in there for you right now, so check it out!

Once you’re done reading through the Editorial Staff Picks and Roundup (and congratulating the winners in the comments), keep scrolling down to check out who won the popular vote on both grids. If you earned the highest number of votes in any challenge, you are this week’s Crowd Favorite! If you came in first, second or third, you get “Top Three” honors. Grab your badge from our sidebar!

Looking for your badge? Both grids have the same Winner, Editorial Staff Pick, and Top Three badges. It doesn’t clutter up our sidebar, and they’ll still look pretty on yours!

YeahWrite #319 Weekly Writing Challenge Staff Picks:

Nonfiction

It’s hard to walk the line between sentimental and maudlin. It’s even harder, sometimes, to pick a subject knowing that your readers don’t share your history with it. How much education is too much, veering into pedantic writing? How much is just not enough to build the connection? Anusha found that line this week and walked it with precise care. I want to tell them I like the way the English language behaves under their tongue, even if I made fun of it years ago. I want to tell them about the kuboos I ate growing up, the heat that burnt our feet, the dust storms that made buildings vanish, the cats that seemed to be everywhere, the meat that hung in revolving inverted cones. This eye for rich, sensual detail immerses the reader in a world they may not share but can feel through the screen or page. By the time Anusha finds her off-brand ma’amoul, we want one too. But it’s not just the descriptions that make this essay successful. What she’s done here is find a shared, universal emotion – nostalgia real or imagined – and connect her version of it to the reader’s own experience, bracketing the essay in the present day to ease us out of and return us to our daily lives. That’s how you share a memory.

YeahWrite #319 Weekly Writing Challenge Staff Picks:

Fiction|Poetry

In her cleverly structured poem, Isaiah, erin5cents sets a wonderful rhythm. She uses repetition of the theme of watching for cars to highlight her community connection to her neighbour’s child, and contrasts the deep emotions she evokes with simple language to describe banal tasks. It is this contrast between the humdrum of everyday life, and the dramatic and tragic climax that provides the greatest gut punch.

Rowan’s Roundup: YeahWrite Weekly Writing Challenge #319

If you’re at all active in writing circles, you’ve probably already read the two essays I’m about to link: The Personal Essay Boom is Over and the responsive Virginia Woolf: There Are Way Too Many Personal Essays Out There. If you haven’t, take a minute and go read them. Now re-read them carefully, because both of these essays do something that you shouldn’t: they bury the lede. In both of these essays, the real story isn’t that there’s no place for personal essays anymore. The story they’re trying to tell – which you can find on that careful second read – is that the boom days of content-over-quality are drawing to an end. For one thing, personal essay writers are finally starting to push back against the wave of publications who will post their incredibly personal stories without pay and without regard for the consequences to the writer or the people written about. For another, there really is a glut of personal essays out there about the Most Tragic Thing And My Feels About It and readers are starting to become numb and bored. Of course, if you’ve been with us for a while, you know that here at YeahWrite we’ve predicted this. We’ve written you love letters, we’ve added a writing help section for nonfiction and fiction|poetry writers, and we’ve read every one of your posts. Yes, every week. Yes, even if you didn’t get an editor’s pick (yet!). If you’re here, you’re getting a head start on becoming the kind of writer that people want to read no matter what you’re writing about. And that’s the ultimate goal, isn’t it? Thanks for being here, and for working to be that writer. And thanks for all the help everyone in this great little community gives, from moral support when we get rejections to beta reading to making the time to comment on posts and let people know what’s working… and what’s not. Because without that constructive criticism, you don’t grow as a writer.

I’m always excited to see poetry on the grid – it’s a way of taking chances, playing fast and loose with the rules of language to make the words mean even more. But sometimes I’m a little lost for what to say about a poem when I’m making my commenting rounds: how do I talk about something that’s obviously heartfelt but which just missed the mark for me? Or a cleverly structured poem that just didn’t back up all that structure with some meaning? If you’re at a loss, too, check out this month’s writing help post, where we (ok, I) broke down some ways to think and talk about poetry if it’s been a while since that Writing 101 class.

That’s it for this week! Remember, we don’t always give out a pick on both grids; if we were impressed by several posts on one grid we’ll give them all picks, and if nothing really stood out for us we’ll hold off. If you didn’t get a pick this week, read back through the Roundup to see if you can use some of this week’s tips and tricks.

If you’re lost in the middle of the grid and wondering how you can get a little more feedback on your posts, check out our membership perks!

Everybody: before you go, please take some time to leave your favorites a little love in the comments, and don’t forget, the Weekend Writing Showcase opens tonight at 6pm Eastern US Time!

Congratulations to the Crowd Favorites at YeahWrite #319

The thumbnails are now sorted in order of most votes to fewest. Ties in the overall number of votes are broken by number of editor votes.

Congratulations if you’re at or near the top! Writing well is hard work, and we’re honored you’ve chosen us this week to showcase your entry.

If you’re at or near the bottom, don’t be discouraged. You’re in the right community for learning and growing as a writer, and we are always available with resources for those who ask nicely.

To our readers and voters: thank you! See you next week.

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About the author:

Rowan submitted exactly one piece of microfiction to YeahWrite before being consumed by the editorial darkside. She spent some time working hard as our Submissions Editor before becoming YeahWrite’s Managing Editor in 2016. In real life she’s been at various times an attorney, aerialist, professional knitter, artist, graphic designer (yes, they’re different things), editor, secretary, tailor, and martial artist. It bothers her vaguely that the preceding list isn’t alphabetized, but the Oxford comma makes up for it. She lives in Portlandia with a menagerie which includes at least one other human. She blogs at textwall and CrossKnit.

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