Congratulations to Emily Grimes for Winning the April 2024 Barefoot Writing Challenge! (Your $100 prize is on its way!)

The challenge was to write an essay that answered this prompt:

Spring is often thought of as a time for “new beginnings” or “starting fresh.” What is something you would like to start doing this spring?

Emily shared the sweet tale of what led her to writing and how she’s using it as a springboard to go forward. Enjoy her winning submission:

March Barefoot Writing Challenge: New Beginnings

Emily Grimes
Emily Grimes

I’ve never cared for New Year’s resolutions. My birthday lands in early fall, so that time of year has always felt more like a goal-setting reset to me. But there’s something about the start of spring, with the promise of warmth and more sunshine-filled days, that makes me hopeful for the future and all its possibilities.

Several months ago, I signed up for an online travel writing class, mostly as a creative outlet and to force myself to take a step in the direction of figuring out what to do next. Like so many people, I have been exhaustively asking myself the same question for years now: What do I want to do when I grow up?

As a kid, my two loves were magazines and movies. I spent most of my childhood poring over any magazine I could get my hands on, and while other kids were playing house, I played “magazine job.” (This consisted mostly of taking fake phone calls while flipping through a big stack of magazines and asking my best friend for more sticky notes.)

When I went off to college, I majored in English because I thought it would be more useful than a theater degree, but I had no clear plan of what to do with it. After graduation, I took an administrative position that I thought would be temporary, but it only led to an endless cycle of typical 9–5 desk jobs. The kind of jobs that are the absolute wrong fit for someone who longs to be creative.

The writing class sparked something in me that had been hiding away for too long, showing itself only briefly in a long-winded Yelp review or an extra-wordy work email. Suddenly, I not only had a creative outlet, but I finally had answers to the kind of career I wanted! Everything started clicking into place, and I found myself fantasizing about being a full-time freelance writer and all the joy and freedom that would bring to my life.

By the time the email from the Barefoot Writers cub landed in my inbox, it felt like a sign that I was on the right path. I hadn’t even considered copywriting, assuming it required a journalism degree or years of experience in advertising. But I thought, Why not? I could at least learn a new writing skill.

And that’s my hope — that wherever this new skill takes me, it’s one step closer to making my writer’s life fantasy a reality.

Sitting at my desk, with the sunshine streaming in and my dog curled up beside me, I feel like I’m finally starting the next chapter of my life. I’m going to need a lot of sticky notes.