Call for Submissions: Annual Exponent II Essay Contest

“We live in a time where it is easy to share what you are thinking in the moment – you can instagram, snapchat, post, text, email. Facebook invites a status update with “what’s on your mind?” But what lasts beyond the fleeting burst of passion that is often how we communicate on social media? What do we dream about when gazing up a blue sky? What motivates us to action? What keeps us awake in the middle of the night? What are the deep, meaningful stories that resonate over and over beyond a sound byte. What do we believe?”

Fifty years ago Edward R. Murrow and a few of his broadcasting peers developed a radio program call This I Believe. With original contributors such as Helen Keller and Eleanor Roosevelt, it became an immediate classic. Recently the program was revived as a non profit organization that encourages people to write and record short stories and statements. Executive producer Dan Gediman explained when beginning this new incarnation, “The goal is not to persuade Americans to agree on the same beliefs. Rather, the hope is to encourage people to begin the much more difficult task of developing respect for beliefs different from their own.”

We were inspired by this idea when thinking about the Exponent II Winter 2017 Essay Contest. During a time of divisiveness and faith crisis, what do we cling to? In our Mormon language, what do we testify as truth? Not in a grand ideological way, but in small ways, daily ways, times when we just know what is right. We invite you to tell us a story about what you believe and why.

Here are the guidelines.

  • Shape your submission in narrative form. Tell a story about you and when you knew something to be true or real or different from what you expected. Be specific and visual. It is always better to describe a small moment in great detail than big earth shattering events in broad strokes. Consider stories of discovery, when you approached a situation assuming one thing and left with new or changed insight. Think of your own experience, work, and family, and tell of the things you know that no one else does.
  • Your story should be between 600 and 1300 words.
  • Focus on one story that illustrates your point instead of a list or abstract ideas. We will be looking for creativity and depth within this short format. Although the length is similar to a blog, we encourage to write with permanence and perspective, a statement that will have meaning fifty years from now.
  • Write about what you do believe, not what you don’t believe. Avoid statements of religious dogma, preaching, or editorializing.
  • Speak in the first person.
  • This contest is for individuals who identify as Mormon women.
  • Send submissions to  The deadline for submissions is November 1, 2016.

We are so grateful to Sue Booth Forbes for generously offered to provide the first place prize, a week long stay at her writer’s retreat in Ireland. More information about the retreat center can be found at Those who cannot or would rather not attend the retreat will receive a monetary award.

For more information about This I Believe or to read examples of essays, go

anam cara


Pandora spends most of her time tinkering with bits of words, fabric and yarn. She lives in Chicago with her husband and a pug. She has two grown up sons who have many adventures.

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