May is the time of year when many of us emerge from long, hard winters to take a restorative breath of warm air. Here in New England, after a pounding winter, we cherish the arrival of green grass.
In part, that’s why Diane Ackerman is on our cover. When we were assembling this issue, Ackerman had recently won the PEN New England Henry David Thoreau Prize for excellence in nature writing, and we thought she would be the perfect embodiment of the inspiration and comfort writers take from the beauty and fierceness of the natural world.
Allow me to call your attention to another celebration of the natural world – the ocean and a short story contest. In these pages and on our website, you can find information about our annual short story writing contest, this year themed An Ocean of Possibility. We offer three ocean-centered quotations from some of our favorite writers – Sarah Kay, Gustave Flaubert and Kate Chopin – and ask you to submit 1,000-word short stories for consideration. The grand prize is $1,000 and publication in this magazine. We’ll have cash prizes and online publication for second- and third-place winners as well, and we can’t wait to read the entries. Submit online by April 30 for this opportunity to dive into a topic and come ashore with your piece published here in The Writer.
In the meantime, we hope you enjoy this issue’s stories about playwriting, role-playing, magical realism, the woes and wonders of a good editor, tips from paperback writers and much more about the life and craft of writers.
I sometimes find myself turning to the German journalist, poet and lieder writer Heinrich Heine for solace. He has never let me down. I can always hear music in his words. I leave you with lines from his Book of Songs, New Spring in the hope that you hear music this May and that it carries you into fresh brilliance with your work.
Sweet May hath come to love us,
Flowers, trees, their blossoms don;
And through the blue heavens above us
The very clouds move on.