I am honored to announce that I have a winner for my 2022 – Personal Essay Contest.
Dannielle Anderson’s essay titled “She’s Mad, But She’s Magic. There’s No Lie To Her Fire” was Essay #5 on the selection list, and received the most votes from all my readers of the five finalist essays written to the prompt “What will your epitaph be? And why is it perfect for you? How does it reflect your life and how you lived it? “
The other finalist essays are as follows (including the author’s name). Congratulations to all of them for exceptional entries. I am so glad that they found the prompt inspirational.
Essay 1 = QUEEN MOTHER OFF ON HER NEXT ADVENTURE – Barbara Phillips
Essay 2 = SHE COPED, SHE CONNECTED, SHE THRIVED – Diane Reid Stevens
Essay 3 = IT DON’T MEAN A THING IF IT AIN’T GOT THAT SWING – Libbe Dennard
Essay 4 = LET’S GET THIS SHOW ON THE ROAD – Mj Pramik
I am pleased to share Danielle’s winning essay, once again, in its entirety.
Danielle wrote — “She’s Mad, But She’s Magic. There’s No Lie To Her Fire”
For as long as I can remember, I’ve felt different. Out of place, off-kilter, a couple clicks off-center. Enough for people to think I’m, perhaps, a bit crazy. And enough for them to feel slightly threatened by me.
I guess it’s true. I frequently color outside the lines, and I’m often misunderstood.
At my core, I am—and always have been—a fire starter. Whether by instinct or intention, I have followed my truth, and this has a way of rocking the proverbial boat that we humans are told to row steadily ahead at all times, eyes down, no questions asked. All that I do in life is drenched in a glorious shade of “Danielle.” And yes, it can be abrupt, brazen, abrasive, and brash… and downright uncomfortable for those dutiful boat rowers. But I simply can’t help it. That’s what I do; that’s how I am designed; that’s who I am. My own mother reminds me of this frequently, although when she does, it comes with a worried tone and one of her signature deep sighs.
“Danielle, you’re so disruptive. It’s like you want to just stick out! Why do you have to make things so hard for yourself? You need to learn to follow the rules.”
It’s true, Mom. I do not blend well. And I’ve never been any good at following “the rules.”
Living within the boundaries has never been my style. Just ask the girl who dyed her hair (and her mom’s bathroom) blue before it was cool. Or the girl who hitchhiked over ten miles in the pitch black of night to reach a friend who simply needed a friend. Or the love-struck fifteen-year-old who camped out in the middle of the road with her boyfriend just to be near him. Or the teen mom who fell deeply in love with a brown-eyed baby boy she had never known she needed so desperately.
Madness, right? Downright crazy, most would say (and believe me, they have). But to me, that girl was magic. She cared not for boundaries, shoulds, can’ts, or don’ts. Her feet carried her forward through life, with her only guide the brilliantly blazing spark inside her, the one she fought viciously to keep lit, the one the darkness of the world tried—and nearly succeeded—to extinguish.
Now that girl is grown. She’s weathered the wind and the rain and the wrath of the storm. Now she stands tall in her brilliant madness as the woman who quit her stable career to start a business that makes her soul smile for miles. And the woman whose bold energy amplifies voices that have the power to raise the vibration of the entire human race. Now that girl is the fierce warrior who slayed her own dragon and then took that dragon in her hands, hugged it close, and tattooed it with gratitude on her back. She’s the single mom who took her four kids on a magical adventure to the ocean, just to feel the sand between her toes and the warm tears slide down her face upon hearing their joyful laughter against the waves.
Yes, I am that kind of crazy. I fly that flag with pride.
But in the end, through it all, I’m just me. An always smiling, fiercely loving, passionately caring, shamelessly swearing, fast driving, street dancing, loud music blasting, deeply feeling human with her spirit lit on fire for this awesome journey we call life.
I may be crazy, but I love this life of mine.
Danielle says this about her writing, the contest, and what it meant to her:
“For me, writing is an act of self-exploration and self-evolution. The pen in my hand is a direct route to my heart’s whispers, and only through writing am I able to clearly and fully embrace what she wishes to say. Writing is how I learn to know, understand, and accept my true self; it’s how I process, vent, and sort through all the busyness in my head; it’s how I maneuver through the voices of worry, doubt, and ego-driven fear to find the real story underneath. My journals have been my closest confidant most of my life, and looking back on my own writing allows me to see the full spectrum of my existence.
I’ve always been drawn to stories. As a story lover and memoir coach, I love hearing about how people identify themselves, what criteria they use to define themselves, and the unique perspective through which they choose to share their stories with others. This contest really spoke to me because it asked writers to describe the reasoning behind an epitaph that they’d choose to summarize their life. In essence, we were asked to sum up our lives in one short line by which we’d want to be remembered—a line grand enough to be emblazoned upon a tombstone. I knew almost immediately that I’d want to use one of my favorite Charles Bukowski quotes, and the rest just fell into place from there.”
Danielle Anderson – BIO
Danielle Anderson is a memoir coach and editor who runs her business—and life—with heart. She is the proud and passionate founder of Ink Worthy Books, a cover-to-cover editorial and publication services company where she leads a team of talented, heart-driven women who believe everyone has a story worth telling, and every story has the power to make the world a better place.
Outside of business, words continue to color her life, and she embraces them in all shapes and sizes: music, books, movies, art, and her own writing. When she’s not busy nimbly maneuvering the wonderfully sedentary world of writing, Danielle thrives on staying active. You can find her making magic with her four kids, traveling, kickboxing in her virtual gym (aka living room), exploring the parks and river valley near her home in Minnesota, laughing at her own jokes, or taking catnaps in the sun with her furry feline friend Layla.
MY NOTE: I am particularly pleased that Danielle is this year’s winner as Danielle is my own memoir writing coach who is whipping me and my manuscripts into place. Danielle’s firm hand and lovely presence make sure I reach deeply and bring out the best I should offer my readers.
A Note to this endorsement. The five finalist entries were chosen by a panel through a blind reading where each essay was assigned points. All I did was tally the points and present the list of finalists to be voted upon by the public. As you know, the essays were also presented to the public in the last post and I had no hand in anything but presenting the contest and selecting the prompt. Each voter was allowed only one vote for their favorite author and essay and the essays were presented blind to not skew voting.
Danielle’s Social media links are:
Instagram – Ink Worthy Books
Facebook – Ink Worthy Books Writing Service
And for those women out there who have a story to tell and want to learn how to write that story into a book that helps to make the world a better place. Go to Danielle’s wonderful Facebook Group – Write Your Book-Share Your Story-Change the World
Essay Contest 2023 – The contest has brought such joy that I am planning on making this an annual event. Subscribe to this blog so that you too can submit an entry into next year’s contest. The new Prompt will be released on February 1.