Carrie McCray Memorial Literary Awards

"Life cannot defeat a writer who is in love with writing - for life itself is a writer's love until death." Edna Ferber
An apt description of the woman who helped found the South Carolina Writers Workshop and served on its board. Carrie Allen McCray Nickens had already lived a full and exciting life when she finally took up writing . . . at age 73! She still had works in progress when she died last year at age 94. The SCWW established the Carrie McCray Literary Awards in her honor when the organization began sponsoring the annual conference years ago. Last year the competition was renamed Carrie McCray Memorial Literary Awards.

And now we welcome a new generation of writers who love life. Who are they? Some of them are last year's Carrie McCray Memorial Literary Awards winners. Their works described such varied situations as visiting slaves' cabins in Charleston, living in the realm of psychosis and wars in Vietnam and the Middle East. Memoir, murder, mystery, romance and humor were woven into the fabrics of the plays, poetry, nonfiction and fiction that passed through the judges' fingers and caught their eyes.

Some of the writers are many of you. You are the weavers and tellers of stories that hold evidence of your love for life and love for writing, and that's what the Carrie McCray Memorial Literary Awards recognizes each year. What patterns, colors and textures do you bring to your work? Could it be your piece that catches the judges' eyes this year? Only if you enter.

Submissions for the competition are now being accepted and anyone attending the 2009 South Carolina Writers Workshop annual conference is eligible. There are four categories this year: poetry, nonfiction, short fiction and novel/first chapter. Registrants may submit work in each category, but only one in each. Judging for each section is done by a three-judge panel with a full spectrum of writing interests and credits. More about them later. Complete details for submitting can be found on the SCWW website. Winners will be announced Friday evening during the conference. First Place winners receive $500 and Second Place winners $100. Honorable Mentions are also awarded.

I'm sorry I never had the opportunity to meet Ms. McCray, but with the Carrie McCray Memorial Literary Awards, her legacy and example will be with us for years to come. And in October we'll meet the writers who have their own way of living their life through their writing. I can't wait to meet them!

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