Past-Year Memoir Contest—2019

Past-Year Memoir Contest—2019

We invite you to look back at 2018 and write about it.

Specifically, we want you to tell us a true story from your life in 2018…in only 18 words.

We want a personal story from your life, which can be hilarious, heartbreaking, puzzling, uplifting, or just plain strange. Look for something intriguing, perhaps something with emotional or intellectual resonance. It’s fine if you want to include current events from the year, as long as it’s mostly about you, or how you feel about it.

Whoever writes the 18-word memoir that most captivates us will win a free Gotham class of his or her choosing.

Here we present the winner and five finalists:


Eerie dissonance: The disco ball spins, but traffic is stopped. This is vacation, Mexico City, my first earthquake.

Catherine Akenhead
Chattanooga, Tennessee


Sand dune sledding with teenage felons. Three hours of laughing like the children they barely got to be.

Meg Specksgoor
Santa Fe, New Mexico

My leg shakes, the chair squeaks. The only sound in the room as I ask what recovery means.

Kurstin Crawford
Lamar, Pennsylvania

At the wedding, a tiny potato becomes stuck in my gullet.

Diana Keschner Henning
Cape Town, South Africa

Examining my newborn, I found a small hot air balloon shaped birthmark. Sweet. Uniquely hers. I kissed it.

Megan Nightingale
Texline, Texas

Children flocked around us as word spread across the playground that I had a crocodile at school.

Lucinda Jackson
Walnut Creek, California

DNA test at 46. My father materializes. He never knew. I am newly Greek and no longer orphaned.

Jaina Clough
Charlotte, Vermont

While critiquing my resume, she flipped the 8x10 towards me. Scribbled across my face: "B+ actor at best."

Sarah Provost
Plainville, Connecticut
The contest is closed.

The Details:

  • Submit an 18-word memoir (true story) that reflects on 2018.
  • Entry must consist of no more than 18 words. Longer entries will be disregarded.
  • Entries must be submitted online by 11:59 Eastern Time, Monday February 18, 2019.
  • Only online entries will be accepted.
  • Entry is free. Limit one entry per person.
  • Entry must be original and unpublished.
  • Entries will be judged on originality, quality, spelling, and grammar.
  • Gotham will post the winning entry at
  • The winner will be notified by March 7, 2019.