Every month, GWM will post a single word, and invite everyone to write up to 500 words on something related to that word. It can be a childhood memory, a thought-provoking essay, or an inspirational story. This is not a contest, but every month GWM will publish a select number of particularly enjoyable or meaningful writings from each division of writers in “The Writers Corner,” on this page of the GWM website. Scroll down for the most recently published entries!
- 500 words or less
- Submissions must be sent in electronically to email@example.com
- Identify your divisions of writers:
- Junior Writer (16 years of age and younger)
- Adult Writer (17 years of age and older),
- Professional Writer (those who have had work published in any form, including books, newspapers, magazines, blogs, etc.).
- Family-friendly submissions will be considered for publication.
- Deadline – last day of the month, a new word will be announced on the first of each month.
Most of you will not know this song. It was a traditional wedding song, once sung at many weddings in the past. My older sister, Margaret, who is now 93, married her college sweetheart , Gene. They are still married and thriving today. I vividly remember this poetic refrain from their wedding. I was a young teen, and do not remember a lot about the wedding, but the song struck a chord within me. After hearing it at the rehearsal and the wedding, I memorized every word. Time moves on, and so do social mores. Many weddings today may still use “Til death do us part”, but the deep and poetic feel of “Oh Promise Me” does not portray the same meaning as it once did.
Mrs. Bartlett was scary! She was a large, fearsome looking woman who rarely smiled and seemed to tower over us. She rarely smiled and was harsh looking. The most fearsome thing about her was that she wore a metal brace in plain sight on her left leg.
She was my eleventh-grade English teacher, and was feared not only by me, but I was convinced by the entire school. It was a small high school, and there was only one eleventh-grade English teacher. Her metal brace was visible because at that time, all women teachers wore dresses or skirts to work. The brace squeaked loudly when she walked unevenly down the hall. You could hear her coming before you turned the corner of the upper-class hall. Worse, was when you heard her coming behind you. It made you involuntarily straightened up and hold your notebook and texts tighter. Mrs. Bartlett was not unkind, but she was demanding and had a way of looking like she knew the real you.
I seemed to get along with her because I was in the National Forensic League. Poetry reading and dramatic interpretation were my strengths. Debate, not so much. Mrs. Bartlett was the advisor to the club and there were field trips and whole Saturdays spent together with her a few other students. In my senior year, I was named Editor of the Yearbook and Mrs. Bartlett the advisor. She had done this for lots of years, so our staff just did what we were told to do, when we were told to do it, and The Corinthian was published as planned.
When I asked Mrs. Bartlett to sign my yearbook, her inscription was a quote from Shakespeare. “This above all to thine own self be true, and it shall follow as the night the day that thou cans’t not be false to any man. “ I was astonished. Why would she write that in my yearbook? I was honest. I kept my word and was dependable. In fact, I was voted Most Dependable in the senior superlatives. What did she mean by that inscription? I only hoped that Mrs. Bartlett wrote the same thing in everyone’s yearbook she was asked to sign.
In thinking about the word promise, I have reflected on Mrs. Bartlett’s inscription. Promise means telling the truth to yourself and others. It also means a hope for something good to happen: the promise of a better day, the promise of rain in a drought, or to see promise in students. That is what a good teacher does. This is what I hope Mrs. Bartlett was imparting to the graduating students. You will reach your promise when you remain true to yourself. We live in times when we desperately need the promise of better times ahead on many levels and the hope it can be achieved.
by Janet Kelhoffer (Adult Writer)
“I’ll be back to get you when school is out,” a parent promises as her youngster exits the car with bookbag in tow. So begins an all-important matter of trust between a child and a parent. The level of trust that results will depend on whether past experiences are “Mom (or Dad) always comes,” or “Sorry, I’m late again; traffic was terrible.”
We live our lives on promises. From the time a child can grasp the concept of “cross my heart and hope to die,” there is a forever realization that anxiety can only be reduced through proof of trust while waiting for a promise to be kept. From “Scout’s honor” to “I do” to “the whole truth and nothing but the truth,” we seek cues that allay our worries. Lifeguards, curfews, the bus schedule, and the spotlessness of a hospital room are all obvious artifacts of promises waiting to be kept.
All relationships begin with a promise made or implied. Promises sound like, “We’ll be arriving on time,” “…until death do us part,” or “I’ll be there by noon.” We sense its subtle power when the restaurant finds our reservation; the newspaper is on the front porch, or the bank statement is accurate. Promise keeping is the superglue of all relationships. It’s absence, in the form of infidelity, is the number one tipping point that leads a marriage to becoming a divorce.
What are the secrets of being a promise keeper? Never make a promise you cannot keep. Tell the truth. Always do what you say you will do. Make your agreements really matter, not just idol, carefree assertions. Remember: trust comes from the overactive compassion in us and not from the hyperactive Scrooge in us. Become known to everyone you know as a meticulously, reliable person.
by Chip Bell (Published Writer)
“I do.” Two simple words that speak volumes. Two simple words which are so full of promise. Two simple words which invoke visions of happiness and forever. I can still see the day in my mind. The white dress. The barn where I got dressed. The young flower girl tip toeing through the grass. The wildflowers my daddy searched up and down dirt roads to pick just for the occasion. The family gathered under the pecan trees. Maybe I remember these few things because they are the few things that can still bring a smile from that time. The time before promises fell apart. The time before promises meant nothing anymore. Looking back now I wonder if they ever did. Nobody utters those two little, simple words thinking that one day down the road they will be broken, shattered, mired in depression. Nobody stands there with the sun streaming down on the couple thinking that instead of the promise of love there will be a promise of abuse. Nobody stands there smiling and looking radiant in white thinking that instead of the promise of being cherished there will come the day when trash is thrown on the floor and she is told to dig through it and find herself a Christmas present. Or the day the front door is taken off the hinges and thrown across the yard because she shut the door too loudly for his liking. Sometimes those promises become a chain weighing you down because you made the vows to stay till death do you part. And sometimes you finally get the courage to realize that the promises of that beautiful day don’t mean anything. Instead, the promise’s you make to yourself matter more. The promise that I will survive. The promise that my child will not grow up in this. The promise that I will leave, and you do.
“I do.” Two simple words that speak volumes. Two simple words which are so full of promise. Two simple words which invoke visions of happiness and forever. Two simple words that you are scared yet joyed to utter again. I remember that day with happiness. A smaller gathering. No white dress. Blue jeans and boots instead. Two families coming together. Two people broken by their pasts but willing to cling together and be whole together. Two people who realize that the failed promises of their pasts do not dictate their future. It was hard to give those promises another chance in my life. To open up and let someone into the broken and shattered mess that was me. But oh, the promises, they have been worth it. To be cherished. To be loved. To be uplifted. To have someone to stand by me and help me heal. I never really knew the true promises held within those two little, simple words. Now though, I do.
by Amanda Vining (Adult Writer)