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April 25, 2007 | 5 Comments

Dear Garrison,
I thought you would be uniquely qualified to help with a small family matter we are having. How do you console a nine-year old writer who has just found out that the short story he submitted to a county-wide competition has gone unrecognized? It was a nice little story about a bear in a silver Mercedes who thwarts the evil intentions of a mad scientist. All in 500 words. But it didn't impress the judges, about which our son is quite disappointed.

As we listen to your show regularly, we thought any advice or words of wisdom you might have would help him pick up his pencil and keep writing. Thanks.

Chico, CA

A writing contest is a game and you play it for fun. It's the same as in baseball: you'll play better if you love playing the game itself, and if you love the game, you'll accept losing. The game is the beautiful thing, and you'd rather be in the game, and losing, than be in the bleachers watching. I'll bet his story was terrific, and if he's unhappy about losing the contest, he can write another story about the bear in the Mercedes who helps a judge whose car has stalled on a lonely road and who is just about to be attacked by a mad scientist. "How can I ever repay you? You saved my life," said the judge. "HEY! Are you the same bear who was in that story in the contest I just judged?" The bear nodded. "Oh man, am I embarrassed," said the judge. "I loved that story so much, I got excited and spilled coffee all over it and so the other judges weren't able to read it. That's why it didn't win first prize." "Not a problem," said the bear. "I'm all over it. But the charge for this ride to town will be $5,000." The judge thought for a moment. He could hear the mad scientist whooping and yelling in the woods. "How do you spell your name?" he said, pulling out his checkbook.


The nine-year old should send his story to and see if they post it in the "First Person, share your stories from home" column.

Great answer, Garrison! As a second grade teacher who is constantly encouraging young writers, I just might be using your example!

Nice analogy about it being a game. Perfect for a nine year old.

Mr. Keillor,

My wife and I just saw 'The Wailin' Jennys' last night in Springfield, MO. They were astounding to say the least. What beautiful music and some of the purest harmony we've ever heard. Thanks so much for introducing them to me through your show.

I don't know if you'd had the chance to hear the new line up with Heather Masse, but she is an amazing new addition. Maybe they'll be on your show again soon. We can only hope so.

Thanks so much!
Scott Harris
Miami, OK

This young writer might be interested in attending a four day summer camp called Author Quest, of which I am the director. We're located in the tip of Michigan's Mitt, and our goal is to help young folks, like this one, to improve their skills as writers, have a non-electronic, old-fashioned, out-in-the-woods-where-it's-very-dark- at-night experience, (We'll be writing on paper, with pencils! There is no internet access! EEK!) and to hang out with other kids who are too frequently thought of as "odd" because they'd rather write than play football or video games. 2007 is the first year for the camp, which is sponsored by AudioCraft Publishing and Johnathan Rand, the author of numerous spooky books for kids. Check us out!

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