Seven finalists were recognized for their creative writing during the Margaret Harvin Wilson Writing Awards ceremony held March 14 at Georgia College. The top written works were selected from 76 entries during the celebration of writing excellence. The top finalists—awarded $1,000 each—are sophomore Mallory Wheeler of Talking Rock, Georgia, and junior Madeline Ender of Cumming, Georgia.
After several days of crafting the play “Disengagement Party,” Wheeler finalized the wining entry.
“I think the thing I enjoy most is the dialogue, because I mostly write plays,” she said. “I have a background in theatre, so when I’m writing, I try to implement pieces I already know while focusing on the way the characters talk and making them as realistic as possible. I just love picturing their conversations.”
Aside from working on dialogue, Wheeler also knows the importance of writing well.
“Language is something that is present in all cultures, so it’s something we all use to communicate with each other,” she said. “I think writing is fundamental, because when you’re talking, you’re using words in a creative capacity.”
Wheeler recently switched her major to English. In doing so, she plans to write more while taking advantage of related opportunities.
“This was my second time entering this contest,” she said. “It was important because first and foremost, I feel I have grown as a writer.”
Winning this award helped Wheeler build confidence in her writing ability.
“I feel that this is validation for me because the things I actually produce are worth something,” said Wheeler. “My future goal is to become an editor, so I think in order to be able to edit writing to make it better, you need to have mastered writing to be able to judge other people’s works.”
Ender wrote the 20-page story “The Women of 213 North Hampton Drive” for one of her workshop classes, but then added to it.
“I had to make sure that every word flowed together,” she said. “There are hours of revisions that go into writing a piece that people don’t think about.”
Ender competed in the contest last year and placed second.
“This year I was really excited to come back and hear what everybody brought and bring my own stuff as well,” she said.
Ender aspires to become a young adult writer. She’s grown up writing, and her father is a writer.
“When I’m feeling happy, sad or frustrated, I just sit down and write,” she said. “Writing is really my way to get through life. I’ve just found that it’s taken me down so many great roads and I can’t wait to see how far I can get with it.”
Ender views writing as critical in the professional world.
“I think that writing is one of the most important things you can learn to do as a person,” she said. “Even if you’re in business or a science field, if you don’t know how to write, then you don’t really have the tools you need to be successful. I also think from the creative aspect, it’s important to express yourself in that way.”
Wheeler and Ender plan to spend their cash prizes on their education. The other finalists also received cash prizes.
The Margaret Harvin Wilson Writing Awards were established in memory of Margaret Harvin Wilson, ’34. When she was a senior at Georgia College, a teacher encouraged her to enter a short story contest. Winning first place in 1933 for “Sympathy Speaks” gave her great confidence for her subsequent career as a teacher.
Wilson’s college experience was critical to her growth and development, stimulating her desire to explore the world beyond her hometown. The writing awards are designed to inspire students to explore new worlds— remaining grounded but also being imaginative and creative.
The contest is open to undergraduate students currently enrolled at Georgia College within the arts, humanities, social sciences and physical sciences. It offers awards and cash prizes to two winners and cash prizes for finalists for writing excellence in poetry, drama or short story.
“This award means a lot to me, especially because of the whole story behind the program,” said Ender. “I really appreciate what that family does for writers. I think it’s awesome that Georgia College has something that celebrates young writers and really gives them confidence in their writing.”