Writing Contests and Magnolia Jazz Band

by Robbie Schlosser · 7 comments

Thanks in advance for reading this article. I appreciate your interest and hope you get a few good ideas. I'd love to hear what you liked. Please write me a little COMMENT below. Start a conversation. Tell me what you think, and I'll reply. Promise.

Robbie Schlosser and friends in San Francisco 2011

I lead the band at a wedding or a party nearly every day, and in between engagements I like to socialize with my colleagues, to help us get to know each other better, to work together even more smoothly.

For example, here I’m with friends at a recent mixer called “Martini Madness“, chatting with photographers Rebecca and Orbie Pullen and wedding coordinator, Jason Diavatis. Thanks for your wonderful photo, Jim Vetter.

I also enjoy reading and writing, and occasionally enter a writing contest.

Writing Contests, in my opinion, too often smother the English-speaking world.  Well, the English-writing world, to be more accurate.

I mean “smother” in the sense of “restrain“, rather than “extinguish”.

Oh, you say you love writing contests?  Good!  Some are wonderful, I’m sure, but not all.

Too harsh?  Let me put it more mildly:  It seems to me that writing contests are not without their faults.  Yes, I agree: writing contests can inspire authors to excel and win praise, recognition, and perhaps valuable prizes.

That’s fine unless contestants find themselves competing for the sake of winning, rather than of writing.  Grinding out words efficiently, with machine-gun precision, but not communicating effectively, with clarity and passion.

That’s it.  Not all writing contests are Satan’s playground, of course, but some tend to veer off… What a shame!  Writing well, like entertaining people with music, is an opportunity to create grace, elegance, and timeless beauty.  Done well, it’s an expressive activity.  It ain’t just “laying bricks”.

I’m thinking about writing contests because I joined one several years back.  Well, not really a contest, actually, but a 30-day challenge to write at least 30 minutes a day, and see what happens.  I looked forward to practicing and developing the habit of writing regularly, more sincerely and expressively.  From the heart.

That phrase, “from the heart”, rings a bell for me, because more than a few of the old-time New Orleans musicians used it to describe how they played their music.  And it inspires me to this day.

I always play with the attitude of entertaining people, to help them enjoy whatever they’re doing, whether it’s celebrating at a wedding ceremony, dancing at a party, or chatting at a banquet.  I strive to play “from the heart”, to reach people emotionally and help them “get into the swing of things”, as I often say.

Nowadays I’m hoping to accomplish the same with my writing.  But it’s not just one of those contests!


Bottom line:  What do YOU do “from the heart”?  Writing well, playing music, or something else?

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Thanks for reading this article. I appreciate your interest and hope you get a few good ideas here. Got one or two? I'd love to hear what you liked. Please write me a little COMMENT below. Start a conversation -- I'll reply. Promise.

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Meanwhile, the Magnolia Jazz Band entertains at weddings and parties throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. If you are ever nearby, you’ll love catching us in action, seeing and hearing us create a great mood.

How can I help you? Call 408-245-9120 or use Robbie@MagnoliaJazz.com. Planning a celebration? Ask about our availability.

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Judy Stone-Goldman

Writing is definitely my “heart space” – but I consider it very much like other art. I’ve done music in my life, and also some casual painting/drawing (just for fun – the best kind of art), and all these activities to me are ways to express myself. Giving myself permission to connect with myself on paper is one of the long-standing good things I’ve done for myself in life.

I think it’s very important to keep the competitive or critical element out of artistic endeavor, at least until one is feeling very solid and self-defined. Holding onto our truth voice (whatever the medium) is key, and competition can throw that off. At least that was true for me.

I enjoy how you stretch yourself even while keeping your core in music.

Judy Stone-Goldman
The Reflective Writer
“Personal-Professional Balance Through Writing”

Robbie Schlosser

Thanks, Judy.
You express yourself so well.  Your phrase “connect with myself” says it all — whether on paper, with music, with paints, and any other medium you mention.  For yourself and for others as well.  By the way, I’ve never heard the phrase “heart space”.  Is it your own?

Ann Evanston

Robbie this is so creative and heartfelt. You are right- this is not a contest-it’s an opportunity to find your heart in your writing and to find others that want to connect in collective spirit through the written word

Robbie Schlosser

Thanks, Ann.  Who knows what I’ll find?  But I’m enjoying the experience, keeping my eyes and ears open to whatever opportunities come along.  Or that I create in the process.  First, of course, is about discipline.  Here’s a chance to systematically strengthen my own sense of discipline, and to serve as an example for others.  Now I’m eager for more.


So true. Thanks for your eloquent articulation. I went to a writer’s thing once in a little stuffy room in DC where Joyce Carol Oates touched on this. To paraphrase, she said ‘The only contest I really write for is the one that I enter every day that I commit to actually write. Then I sit down and write. I don’t worry about structure or sense or even punctuation… I just write.’ The 30 day challenge sounds like the best type contest: one through which you’re not challenged to beat anything or anyone other than yourself, and where the prize is a journey of discovery filled with who knows what riches. Sweet. Thanks for the inspiration!

Robbie Schlosser

Hi!  Glad you enjoyed my little essay.  I’m looking forward to a dramatic “before & after” comparison after I’ve completed writing for 30 consecutive days.  Now with any king of luck, I’ll be continuing past one month.  I’m just a newbie at writing consistently like this, and it sounds like you’ve done a bit of writing yourself.  I enjoy reading through your blog, and I’ll return regularly. 

freelance writng jobs

Writing is really a good thing.

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