Fall/Winter Writing Contest: Emma Hunter’s “God’s Breath and Bolognese”

Contest judge Stan Rubin, a master teacher, poet and friend of writing, wrote that Emma Hunter’s essay: Gracefully lives up to its rather daunting title, with wit and philosophical sweep. Concisely renders a dual vision — adult and child, the mundane and the cosmic — with natural dialogue and internal reflection, in a realistic scene. The relationships are delicately and convincingly established, including a flashback that adds depth to the character. Good physical immediacy, vivid similes, and wry, loving irony let us share a sympathetic adult perspective on the unanswerable.


God’s Breath and Bolognese
by Emma Hunter

 “So, some TV programmes are just drawings, some programmes are made out of plasticine, some programmes have real people but they are pretending and some have real people but they are not pretending?” He looks at me quizzically.

I peel garlic and simultaneously look for the other clove which is somewhere amongst this morning’s cornflake-congealed bowls, an empty milk carton, today’s unopened post, last week’s school newsletter, a box of ‘treasure’, and a tractor, piano, and talking dog all awaiting new batteries.

“Yeah…” I begin, but he is already pencil in hand storyboarding his forthcoming TV programme on the kitchen table. It’s about his little brother Corin, he’s not sure what’s going to happen yet. He sets the scene, proud to have had the idea of telling the story from Corin’s point of view instead of his own.

“Daddy is in the big chair typing on the ipad. Mummy is in the kitchen cooking as usual. Brynley” (that’s him) “is drawing an amazing drawing at the kitchen table whilst I,” (he pauses for dramatic effect) “Corin, am playing with my blocks on the floor.”

Brynley chews his pencil thoughtfully. His dishevelled brush of brown hair with a hint of my red is refusing to be tamed today and his school jumper is mottled with various food and craft substances.

“Mummy, if the universe is always expanding, what happens after that?” He asks as if this has been the topic of discussion all evening. His forehead is crinkled and he blinks his long dark eyelashes with intense seriousness.

I throw tomatoes into the pan and try to focus my thinking on the finer points of entropy. I glance around for the iPad. We’ll ask Google. Ah, Daddy is in the other room typing on it. I bristle but remind myself that he is allowed to catch up on work emails.

I prod the sauce briefly wondering what else to put in it then turn to him.

“Well, ah, what do you think happens?” He grins in the spotlight of my attention then with a deep inhale he’s off and running with his ideas.

“Well, it gets bigger and bigger and BIGGER like this.” He kneels up in his chair and opens his little arms wide and strains and stretches across his chest, grimacing under the tension. “Until POP!” he slaps his hands together in front of him then makes that little-boy-explosion-noise, “Kerchoooooo, ” as his body twists and contorts and crumples and curls. “Then it all explodes but inwards…”

“Implodes?” I offer.

“Yes, implodes inwards until it gets smaller and smaller and smaller until it is the tiniest dot, like the tiniest speck of dust or a tummy bug that you can’t actually see.”

“And then what?” I lean

This article is for our members. We welcome you to try Writing It Real today!

Already a member? Login below

Remember me (for 2 weeks)

Forgot Password


Watch for the Announcement of our Next Writing Contest

New Contest Information Coming in the Fall

This contest closed but the description works for our next round. Check back for information in the early fall.

We are happy to announce our Fall, 2015 writing contest. Poets! Essayists! Memoirists! Fiction Writers! Send us the work  you feel stuck about — up to three poems or 3,000 words of prose (stand alone essays, excerpts, chapters) — and Sheila will respond to your work within a week with guidance as to where to go next. You can then send in your revision by the close of our reading period and those revisions will be entered into the final judging by guest judge Stan Rubin.  

Prizes for three winners are the choice of free tuition for a Writing It Real online class or an hour’s consulting time on up to three poems or 3,000 words of prose. Remember, whether you are a prize winner or not, everyone wins, because as usual Sheila will read your initial entry and give you response to use in revising and resubmitting before the final deadline.

Our Contest Goes Like this:

  1. Submit your entry of 1 to 3 poems or 3,000 words of prose.
  2. Receive Sheila’s comments
  3. Revise your entry (if you’d like to)
  4. Submit revision for final judging by the reading period deadline of 12/15/15; otherwise, we will use the original of the work you entered.

At Writing It Real, we believe the writing is in the revising. In that spirit our contests are about receiving detailed response to a draft and having our entrants send revisions in for consideration by a guest judge, who chooses three place winners.

So again,

  1. Submit your poem and Sheila Bender will respond in detail via email within a week after receiving your entry. When you revise the work it may exceed the initial word limit.
  2. Pay the reading fee of $15, which entitles the entrant to detailed response and a chance to win editing time or a class with Sheila.
  3. There is no additional reading fee for the re-entry. If entrants do not submit a revision, their original entry goes on to final judging. Not a member yet? Please become a member and send in your entry.

Sheila wants everyone to be a winner, and by receiving her detailed response to your submitted writing, you get a jumpstart in making your writing sing.

All (with the author’s permission) winning writing will be published in Writing It Real.

The sooner you enter, the more time you’ll have for revision. Please submit your writing soon.

The Logistics of How to Enter

If you are a member, log into Writing It Real and then click the Buy Now button below. You then pay your entry fee ($15) and submit your entry. If you are not a current Writing It Real member, it’s easy to join and enter the contest in one payment. You’ll receive the many benefits of belonging to Writing It Real, including being able to enter other contests during the year to receive Sheila’s response.

Our online form allows you to pay your fee via Visa or Mastercard. Your entry must be attached as a Microsoft Word or .rft document. We will not be able to read submissions that are in any other file type. NOTE: If you are unable after paying to upload your entry using the form (some browsers have been giving entrants trouble with the form) do send the entry as an attachment to email to contest@writingitreal.com with “initial contest entry” in the subject line. Either way, put all the poems into one Word document. If  you want to use the form for re-entry that is good but if you are having trouble, again, use email and mark the re-entry as such in the subject line.

If you’d like to submit hard copy, mail a copy of your entry along with a check to Writing It Real, 394 Colman Drive, Port Townsend, WA 98368. Remember to include your email address.

Again, entrants receive Sheila’s detailed response within a week of receipt of the document. The detailed response is guaranteed to speed you on your way to a finished piece.

And again, our contest reading fee is $15.00 for Writing It Real Members. Click the buy button below and, after making your payment, you will be sent to a page where you can upload your submission or just email it to sbender@writingitreal.com. You can send it as a .doc, .docx or an .rtf file (most word processing programs allow you to save in one or more of these formats).

Do not put your name on the submission. Your name can be in the form/email.

If you are already a member, be sure to login now, then you’ll only pay the $15 reading fee for your contest submission.The contest fee for nonmembers is $50 and includes a $35 Lift Off level year’s membership to Writing It Real, plus the contest reading fee of $15. Please use the buy button below to join now. After you submit your payment, you will be routed to the contest submission form. You can upload it as a .doc, .docx or an .rtf file (most word processing programs allow you to save in one or more of these formats). Do not put your name on the submission. Your name and email is on the form you fill out.

If you have questions, email us. If you prefer, send your double-spaced manuscript and a check to:

Writing It Real Contest
394 Colman Drive
Port Townsend, WA 98368

If you do a paper submission, include a cover letter with your name, address, email address and phone number as well as the name of your submitted pieces. Do not put your name on the submissions themselves.