Reflections Personal Essay Contest
Mid-September - Mid-October, 2019

enter the contest

enter the contest

Topic: Leaving Home


Leaving Home

Home is an emotionally packed word, powered by heart-felt memories. Think about the first time you left home. Some of us married and started our own homes, others went off to college or entered the military, and still others set off to find a job and become independent career-minded women. Whatever the reason, leaving home marked an important transition from what we were to who we were becoming.

In an essay of no more than 1200 words, tell us about leaving home for the first time. What did you take with you, what did you leave behind? How did leaving home change you? What did you learn about yourself? What did you learn about the meaning of home?


Awards: One prize of $100, one prize of $50, and one prize of $25. Winning stories will be published in a special section of the Story Circle Journal and will be featured on the SCN's award-winning website. Upon the judges' recommendation, other entries may be published in later issues of the Journal and in other SCN print and on-line publications.


  1. You must be a dues-paying member of Story Circle Network to enter. (To join, use our online membership form; you can pay online or mail your check to the address below.)
  2. There is a $15 entry fee, which can be paid online or by check (send to the address below).
  3. One entry per member.
  4. To be eligible, your entry must be unpublished. We define a "published" piece as one that has been reviewed and accepted by an editor, either for a print or an online publication. For the purpose of this contest, blog posts are not considered "publications."
  5. Winners of contests within the last calendar year are not eligible. If you have previously won this competition and would like to volunteer to serve as a judge, we'd love to have you! Please email contest at
  6. If you have internet access, you must submit your entry to us electronically by using our online form [see below]. If you do not have access to a computer, mail your entry (typed and single-spaced, on 8.5 x 11" paper). If you do not have access to a typewriter, we will accept entries that are clearly handwritten in dark black ink.
  7. Each entry must be titled, and no longer than 1200 words (count actual words, or use the MS Word word-count function). Put the actual word count under your name/address. Entries that are longer than 1200 words will be rejected.
  8. Be sure that your name and address appear on your entry (these will be removed for the judging process). Include a 50-word bio to be published with your entry if you win. Winners' stories must be available for publication; however, if you wish your story to be published anonymously, we will remove your name. Keep a copy of your entry.
  9. By submitting your story, you are giving Story Circle the right to publish it in the Journal, in its other print publications, and on its web site. However, authors retain copyright.

Criteria and Judging: The judges look for entries that are fresh and original, tell a compelling story in a clear and authentic voice, are responsive to the topic, and have been polished and proofread for presentation in the competition. The most successful submissions are rich in evocative detail and avoid generalizations and abstractions. Entries will not be returned; evaluations will not be available. The judging team will be made up of Story Circle Facilitators and published authors.

Deadline: Your entry and your entry fee must both be postmarked (if by USPS) or date stamped (if online) NO LATER THAN midnight EDT October 22, 2019. It is unfair to writers who observe these rules to ask for an exception.

Notification: Winners will be notified by December 1, 2019.

How to Enter: All contest entries should be made via the web form, here. The contest opens on September, 15, 2019.

enter the contest

Hard-copy Submissions: Please send us your contest entry via the web form. If and only if you are really unable to submit your story electronically, you may submit your story by mailing us a paper copy. Hardcopy submissions should be sent to: Life Writing Competition,