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Sunspot Lit - Single Word Submission

I’ve been trying more and more of late to submit works to online journals and lit groups. Some sites offer prompts or themes and fuck if I don’t find them really helpful, because half the time my brain is a scrambled ball of wires and pulling on a thread will just as soon as zap me as give me a spark of inspiration.

Well, below is a piece I worked on for Sunspot Lit. They posed the question, what is the most important word? With a word limit of 1000 words.

As the comp has closed now I can post my piece, which made the Longlist of finalist. While I made the longlist, unfortunately I didn’t progress to the shortlist/final round. Still, it’s a start! And I may have another piece being published soon. Stay tuned.

This was the email from Sunspot Lit, so I figured I’d share the whole thing as well.

Single Word Contest Results

Sunspot Lit announces the results of the Single Word contest’s 2020 edition. Submissions were open for any prose form, poetry, and visual art. We received entries that made us laugh, thoughtful pieces that dealt with the current pandemic, and works that hold meaning no matter what state the world is in.

Truly, this crop of entries showed exceptional talent. It’s heartening to know that people are working creatively to make the world a better place. The lists below reflect the results of multiple judging rounds. Look for the finalists and the winner in the next quarterly edition, due out around the end of June.

The winner received $500 cash and will be published in the next quarterly edition. Finalists have been offered a chance to be published, as well.

Congratulations to everyone on these lists!


Compassion, Joshua Molina

Confidence, Tara Strahl

Faith, Trever Sinanovic

Enough, Lisa DeAngelis

One, Wes Finch

Weapon, Mary Lash

Light, Tanita Cree

Equanimity, Hunter Liguore

Consequence, Elizabeth Cain

Chinese, Jill Bronfman

Faith, Jennifer Jones

Unidistancing/Uni-distancing, Corinne Beasley

Turbine, Cameron Lings

Gender, Vicky Prior

Exit, Thomas Mangan

Us, Mary Sheehan

Jarabi, Doley Henderson

Anomie, Angela Kaufman


e/motion, Kerry Rawlinson

Dream, Michael Noonan

Another Word for Beauty, Mark Henderson

The Meaning of Free, Hannah van Didden

Rega, Rosalie Sydes

Yes, Lisa Friedlander

Stoic, Aileen Boyer

Vulnerability, Hazel Whitehead

My congrats to the Winners and runner ups, who you can read about here:


And without further ado, my piece, Light:

The English language is a complicated, glorious shitshow of a thing. It’s a circus without a ringmaster. There’s silent letters. Things that sound the same but have different spelling and meanings. A womb, a tomb and a bomb don’t all rhyme, but somehow pony and bologna get along? It’s read, not read, and I won’t shed a tear over a tear. Don’t even get me started on the contronyms.

Yet in all its chaotic glory, it still brought civilization forward. We still used it to build empires and communicate across leagues and tell stories. It’s a cracked diamond; flawed, yet still beautiful.

Most of my favourite words are a beep on public broadcasting networks. Yet to decide on the most important word across languages, one veritable gem amongst the hundred and seventy one thousand English words is arguably impossible.

Objectivity, then, is not part of this explanation.

Much like dietary requirements, medication and memes, I cannot decide what works best for all people. I cannot declare one word to be the ultimate word, forsaking all others, and demand worship of it. But hopefully, I can describe it. Explain it, and my motivations. And maybe the word becomes important to someone other than myself.

Now more than ever, I think the most important word is ‘light’.

After all, isn’t light what we look for in the darkest places? It’s a transformative symbol - a light in the dark can mean so many things, to so many people. Light chases away the monsters under our beds. It illuminates. Brightens. Reveals.

It’s the visual, the picture, that we look to when we need something more. The ray of sunshine streaming through storm clouds. The candle flickering in the window. The dawning of a new day. It’s hope, despite what the thesaurus says.

It ignites us, the light burning within.

It’s the softer shades of colour; the gentle blues and pinks around a swaddled, cherubic face.

It’s the impression of warmth; a face upturned to the sun, golden skin, a summer tan.

It’s the feeling when you get good news.

When the weight of the world and its problems are lifted off your shoulders,

however briefly.

It’s a person. It’s people.

It’s the light of his life.

It’s the light in her eyes.

We reach for the light. We look to the light.

Call me sentimental, a sap, but it is what it is. Light is a feeling. Light is an emotion. Light is a guide. This is the word that made the most sense. Like stories, perhaps we reach for the words we most need to see and hear at the time. This was the word that had meanings beneath meanings. Symbols and imagery that inspired a smile, a desire to keep going. And I thought, just maybe, that others might need a little light in their lives too.

To see in the dark.

To warm ourselves.

To push ourselves on, and lift ourselves up.

To be a light in the dark.

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