The real story behind the stories

For the past five years, Farm and Dairy has sponsored a holiday writing contest for youth and adults. And for five years, we have been amazed at the response, and at readers’ creativity and their passion.
We love it. We love the entries, we love the ideas, we love the lessons many of the stories share, and we love being able to provide an outlet for writing.
Let’s face it, we love words here in the Farm and Dairy newsroom. We subscribe to daily e-mails about narrative journalism. We’ve been known to haggle over the smallest of apostrophes and have debated which is correct: “more important” or “more importantly.” We’re kind of weird that way.
Maybe that’s why we’re so encouraged at the continued interest in the writing contest. Good writing is hard work, and what do you get if you win our contest? The reward of seeing your name and your story in print. That tells us that the joy of writing, of finishing a meaningful project, is a reward in itself.
Some of you tell us that’s true.
“I enjoyed reminiscing and writing this story whether I get this published or not,” wrote Richard Morehouse of Jeromesville, Ohio, in a note with his entry. “Thanks for the opportunity.”
And Chet Cornman of Freeport, Pa. – a past winner – wrote, “Hope you don’t mind my entering again. Too much fun to pass up.”
You can read the winning entries in the adult division in this week’s paper (see page B1). The youth winning entries were published last week
There is a strong link between the art and science of agriculture and the art and science of writing, and of great thinking. I’ve just started reading Gene Logsdon’s latest book, The Mother of All Arts: Agrarianism and the Creative Impulse, that explores that link, and I can’t wait to pick it back up.
“Farming has always been driven, in part, by the instinctual human love of natural beauty,” Logsdon writes. “Likewise, art has often been influenced by farming and can be understood fully, or as fully as any art can be understood, by an intimate knowledge of farming.”
Logsdon, an Ohio farmer as well as author, is also fond of quoting the introduction to Norman Wirzba’s The Essential Agrarian Reader that explains why Logsdon calls agriculture “the mother of all arts”: Agriculture grows out of “the sustained, practical, intimate engagement between the power and the creativity of both nature and humans.”
I’m sure none of our special authors were pondering this deeper thought when they penned their stories and zipped them off to us. Still, no art – no writing – happens without inspiration, and it’s clear the natural world around our rural writers provided plenty of that.
“Good prose is like a windowpane,” wrote George Orwell in his essay Why I Write. And it’s true, each of the writing entries we received gave us a glimpse of the writer, and it was like meeting a new friend.
We hope you will take time to read the winning entries in last week’s paper and in this issue. And then we hope you take the next 11 months to seek inspiration for your own entry next year. You might be surprised and discover, as Chet Cornman says, it’s just “too much fun to pass up.”
(Editor Susan Crowell wishes she had more time to write. She can be reached at 800-837-3419 or at editor@farmanddairy.com.)
For the past five years, Farm and Dairy has sponsored a holiday writing contest for youth and adults. And for five years, we have been amazed at the response, and at readers’ creativity and their passion.
We love it. We love the entries, we love the ideas, we love the lessons many of the stories share, and we love being able to provide an outlet for writing.
Let’s face it, we love words here in the Farm and Dairy newsroom. We subscribe to daily e-mails about narrative journalism. We’ve been known to haggle over the smallest of apostrophes and have debated which is correct: “more important” or “more importantly.” We’re kind of weird that way.
Maybe that’s why we’re so encouraged at the continued interest in the writing contest. Good writing is hard work, and what do you get if you win our contest? The reward of seeing your name and your story in print. That tells us that the joy of writing, of finishing a meaningful project, is a reward in itself.
Some of you tell us that’s true.
“I enjoyed reminiscing and writing this story whether I get this published or not,” wrote Richard Morehouse of Jeromesville, Ohio, in a note with his entry. “Thanks for the opportunity.”
And Chet Cornman of Freeport, Pa. – a past winner – wrote, “Hope you don’t mind my entering again. Too much fun to pass up.”
You can read the winning entries in the adult division in this week’s paper (see page B1). The youth winning entries were published last week
There is a strong link between the art and science of agriculture and the art and science of writing, and of great thinking. I’ve just started reading Gene Logsdon’s latest book, The Mother of All Arts: Agrarianism and the Creative Impulse, that explores that link, and I can’t wait to pick it back up.
“Farming has always been driven, in part, by the instinctual human love of natural beauty,” Logsdon writes. “Likewise, art has often been influenced by farming and can be understood fully, or as fully as any art can be understood, by an intimate knowledge of farming.”
Logsdon, an Ohio farmer as well as author, is also fond of quoting the introduction to Norman Wirzba’s The Essential Agrarian Reader that explains why Logsdon calls agriculture “the mother of all arts”: Agriculture grows out of “the sustained, practical, intimate engagement between the power and the creativity of both nature and humans.”
I’m sure none of our special authors were pondering this deeper thought when they penned their stories and zipped them off to us. Still, no art – no writing – happens without inspiration, and it’s clear the natural world around our rural writers provided plenty of that.
“Good prose is like a windowpane,” wrote George Orwell in his essay Why I Write. And it’s true, each of the writing entries we received gave us a glimpse of the writer, and it was like meeting a new friend.
We hope you will take time to read the winning entries in last week’s paper and in this issue. And then we hope you take the next 11 months to seek inspiration for your own entry next year. You might be surprised and discover, as Chet Cornman says, it’s just “too much fun to pass up.”
(Editor Susan Crowell wishes she had more time to write. She can be reached at 800-837-3419 or at editor@farmanddairy.com.)

About the Author

Farm and Dairy Editor Susan Crowell has been with the paper since 1985, serving as its editor since 1989. Raised on a farm in Holmes County, she is a graduate of Kent State University. You can follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/scrowell and follow Farm and Dairy at http://twitter.com/farmanddairy. You can also find her on Google+ and Facebook. More Stories by Susan Crowell

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