Jessica Irwin: July 2015 Barefoot Writing Challenge Winner

Challenge Essay Winner Jessica Irwin

Barefoot Writer Jessica Irwin

Congratulations to Jessica Irwin for Winning the July 2015 Barefoot Writing Challenge! (Your $100 prize is on its way!)

The Challenge was to write an essay that answered this question:

It’s summer in the Northern Hemisphere! What’s your favorite summertime escape or activity that recharges your creativity?

Jessica pulled us into her summer escape, woven brilliantly together with imagery and metaphor that draws us right into the experience. Enjoy her winning submission:

A Cool Drink of the Beach

One of the first stories I ever wrote was typed out on the first laptop I ever owned on my first trip to Charleston. And as I write this, I’m heading there once again, for what will be my sixth escape to this sun-soaked, moss-laden corner of the South.

But this time, I’m coming up dry, suffocated by the landlocked desert of the Midwest. I can feel it as I struggle to write, struggle to feel inspired to write. I realize the dry sand of a long winter soaked up every drop of my life-giving writing resolutions, and now it’s already the middle of July. But as we inch ever closer to more colorful streets and more luminous views, I feel the first surge of rehydration.

I can almost taste it, the familiar drive into Charleston and the jaunt down the coast to our favorite beach town. On my last trip, I was so eager for the sight of the ocean that I stuck my head out of the window like a panting dog, drinking in the air spattered with sea salt and smiling myself silly. I jumped out of the car yapping with delight and ran toward the tide, arms in airplane mode, my face lifted to catch the wind and the glow of the moon and the twinkle of the lights along the pier.

This is the place where I feel free. I’ve seen the borders of almost 30 countries, but of all the places in the world, this stretch of beach is where I feel most alive.

While the world behind me dissolves into the spray of the ocean, I sense the call of the seagulls breaking the shackles of my mind and feel the breeze tickling my imagination. I think it is time to write again.

When I’m at home, the pieces of my day-to-day existence morph into jail cell bars, and I don’t even realize how handcuffed I feel and how all the little responsibilities of life have made creativity seem as impossible a feat as breaking out of prison.

But here at the beach, I am free. My eyes pop open in the mornings to the sound of the waves, and I hear myself already writing in my head. I spend my days sitting in the sand, knowing there is nothing I need to do that is more important than sitting in the sand. In the evenings, I feast by the sight of the sun slipping from the sky, smearing it with a colorful protest to bedtime. But I’m not sleepy yet either.

Like a spa day for the mind, this stretch of sand and water and sky rejuvenate my innermost being. How clearly I see new ideas as they shimmer all around me. How viciously my fingertips itch for the cool keys of my computer. Creativity is calling me.

It’s time to write.



  1. Wow, Jessica, I loved reading your article, even more the second time. You really made me feel your excitement of reaching your favorite stretch of sand.
    You also showed me something I’ve been lacking in my own writing career, and that’s the importance of rejuvenation and rehydration.

    I love this line…”When I’m at home, the pieces of my day-to-day existence morph into jail cell bars, and I don’t even realize how handcuffed I feel and how all the little responsibilities of life have made creativity seem as impossible a feat as breaking out of prison.”

    That hits home.

    Well Jessica, you’ve done it to me. It’s time for a break. I need to go find a beach.

  2. Hi Jessica,
    I love your essay! You drew me into the scenery…I could smell the sea air and feel the warm sand under my feet.

    You also captured the vivid contrast between home in the Medwest and the rejuvenating atmosphere of the beach beautifully.

    Thank you for the lovely read!

  3. Jessica. You essay was absolutely brilliant! You made me want to be there. I have never thought of Charleston as a vacation spot but you make me want to go there.
    I can feel your rejuvenation and excitement.
    I’m currently studying AWAI’s Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting and loving the process. I look forward to writing and impacting my readers as well as you.
    Much continued succes to you.

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