Last November, the North Carolina Writers Network celebrated its 30th anniversary with a three-day conference in Asheville. With around 1,400 members, the NCWN is one of the largest writing institutions in the country. Its enduring motto — “Welcome to the writingest state” — was penned by late fiction writer and essayist Doris Betts, a beloved UNC professor after whom one of NCWN’s most popular writing contest is named.
In fact, the NCWN hosts writing contests all year long. Next deadline: January 30 for the Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize, judged by celebrated novelist Ron Rash.
The Doris Betts Fiction Prize deadlines a mere two weeks after, on February 15.
In the meantime, share works in progress at the The N.C. Writers Network Open Mic. “Hendersonville and Asheville — the whole of Western North Carolina — is a very creative area,” Patricia Vestal, the Henderson County representative for the NC Writers Network and NCWN-West, noted to Bold Life in a piece by Jen Nathan Orris. “There’s a lot of craftspeople and artists here, and also a lot of writers as well.”
Vestal promises that the open mic is “very welcoming to new writers.” Typically, between 18 and 23 writers share works ranging from 3-5 minutes. So even if you’re not gunning for a contest deadline yet, gaining inspiration and insight in a warm atmosphere can only open the flow.
January 25. Free. 5:30-7:30pm. Henderson County Library (301 N. Washington St.) 828-697-4725. To find out more about the North Carolina Writers Network, its mission, and its regular statewide competitions, see www.ncwriters.org.