Contest Winner

Katie Dolgert - Winners Circle

Katie Dolgert

Winning Entry: DIAGNOSIS DAY

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Welcome to the Winners Circle where we celebrate the success of our ICL and IFW Contest winners. Today we celebrate with Katie Dolgert who came in 2nd place in our IFW Essay to My Younger Self Contest with her entry DIAGNOSIS DAY.

Katie DolgertWhat contest was your winning entry submitted to?

Essay to My Younger Self

How many writing contests have you entered?


Please give  the title of your entry and a short summary of the story.

My story was entitled “Diagnosis Day.” It was about my older self advising my younger self on how to navigate after being diagnosed with a life-long, chronic autoimmune disease at 21 years old.

What inspired your winning entry? 

Being diagnosed with a life-long illness is overwhelming. And when I was 20 years ago, there wasn’t a large  community or support available to help navigate my feelings, answer questions or offer guidance on the bumpy road ahead. Sometimes you just need to hear from someone further down the road you are on that it will be ok. You will be ok.

How has entering this contest helped your writing?
I’ve always loved to write. But as a working mom with 3 small children, I don’t have a lot of free time. Entering the contest helped me focus my time and attention on what I wanted to say and having a deadline insured that it remained a priority.

How did the critique in the Winners Workshop help you?
The critique honestly overwhelmed me. In a good way! Writing a piece like this that is so personal can be really terrifying. So to hear that people connected with me and could feel the emotion I was feeling despite not having had the same journey, was invaluable feedback.

Are you a full-time writer? If not, what is your “day job”?

IFW complete logo lg

I would love to one day say that yes, I am a full-time writer! But my day job is as contract negotiator for a large insurance company where I do write contracts!

How long have you been writing?
On and off for 30 years.

What will you do with your piece now that it’s been recognized?
I’m not sure! It’s a pretty specialized piece so if I can find a market for it, that would be amazing. If not, I hope to share it with others battling autoimmune diseases in solidarity of the rollercoaster they may be dealing with.

Any fun plans for the prize money?
Entering more contests!

What do you do when you’re feeling discouraged or blocked? Do you have any tips for your fellow writers?
I always go back to “write what you know.” You have unique and interesting experiences that can be used to tell incredible stories. I know so many people with fun character traits or quirks that I can incorporate into a character. Find something you are passionate about and the emotion comes through effortlessly. I do my best thinking in the shower, on long runs or at bedtime so always have a notebook or home handy to jot down inspiration when it strikes!

If you could go to the yard sale of any character in the history of children’s literature, whose would you go to, and what would you buy?

One of Kit’s amazing silk dresses that she brought back from Barbados in The Witch of Blackbird Pond.


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