The O’Fallon Public Library had its first Adult Writing Contest this summer showcasing the writing skills and passions of area writers, ages 18 and up.

Over 80 entries were received between June 1 and midnight, August 1. Winners were selected by a 4-person panel of judges and were announced August 21.

Booklets will be printed and available for purchase (details forthcoming!). Visit our website to read the other winning entries.


Best Essay: Living With My Consumption

By Kenna Simpson


“Deep breath; ease your mind; calm your heart’s pounding beat; listen; observe; absorb; repeat.” I think this to myself as my feet struggle to keep the added weight of anxious thoughts on my already heavy mind. With seconds ticking away like minutes and minutes as hours, I close my eyes and let the sun’s warm and welcoming rays kiss my skin. “You are worth so much. You are capable of anything. This feeling is not you. It does not control you. Deep breath; ease your mind; calm your heart’s pounding beat; listen; observe; absorb; repeat.”

Repeating my mantra, I try to bring myself to move faster, yet something has a hold of me still. My feet abruptly stop, almost throwing the rest of my body aside. I’m anchored by this crippling darkness. I’m so afraid, paralyzed by the fear. I can’t do this. I know I can’t. I need to give up. Why am I even trying when there is no point? This consumption has deemed me guilty to crimes I have created for myself. I am now jailed for what seems an eternity with time as the guardian of this mental asylum. The screams of my maddening thoughts are overwhelming, taunting, and disheartening, but I should know better. These thoughts and ideas exist just as much so as Santa Claus or the tooth fairy, but still they haunt and torture me with their cold grasps around my limp and powerless body. I have no escape. Some days I feel as if the fog has lifted and I will be freed from the burden, until reality takes a seat next to me and reminds me that I am chained to this consumption for the rest of my days. This is my daily battle against the ever hungry consumption that has a hold of my soul. Each task is more challenging than the last. I’m running a marathon against my subconscious and I am losing in all sense of the word.

Which consumption has snared me in its thorny grasp? The answer is quite simple; it is the kind that keeps you awake at all hours of the night, and demands you rest during the innocence of day. This consumption will have you ravage your mind for any kind word you can muster over any topic just so that you don’t have to suffer the suffocating weight of the unpleasant reality that your mind has created. You will feel alone when surrounded by swarms of people, and yet you will feel surrounded when accompanied by even one other person. Every thought that comes to mind will send you into never ending ideas of “what-if”. Peaceful moments, seldom as they are, will be greeted by thoughts grand enough to grant you a master’s degree in philosophy.

Tonight, when I close my eyes as I rest my unsettled head upon my pillow, I will dream blindly. Not only will the motion picture of my subconscious be unpredicted, but the promise of tomorrow will be just as much a mystery, never to know if I will be whisked away under the starry jeweled cloak of the night; I tell myself unconsciously that myself, and others like me, will be fortunate enough to see the bright and warm face of tomorrow’s well affirmed sun. This is a ridiculous notion though. Why follow blindly in this concept knowing that tomorrow is not always guaranteed no matter the deeds of our days. I suppose we must hold onto something though. If it all was for survival purpose alone, how would we know what was truly meaningful or not in this cruel, yet majestic, feat called life? Our minds do not know death. We cannot begin to fathom its complex beauty and mystery. Our love for others works in the same in the sense that we cannot truly divulge the meaning of the feeling. I challenge you to ask someone about the after process of death or about the complexities of love. No one answer will be the same as the last. Similarities will exist across the board, but from this experiment it can be seen clearly that complexities around us can never truly be understood.

But is that feeling of uncertainty okay? Can we survive completely on the notion of blind faith? We believe in so much already that the concept doesn’t always compute in the equation of life, but why? That, I cannot tell you; however, in order to understand the simplicities, we must first accept the presence of the complexities. We cannot begin to work towards an easy task if we have already presented ourselves with road blocks that we have created and abandoned from previous projects, thoughts, and feelings; and as hard as we try to ignore what keeps us anchored to the ground, we will only further distract ourselves, which will only injure our already fragile minds. Emotions are thoughts and ideas, and they can consume us if we continue to allow ourselves to feed them, growing larger and stronger with each and every moment until everything has been devoured and nothing but darkness remains.

This is my consumption, the beast I have yet to control. It rages on like a flame bathing in oxygen, free to run rampant and leave ashes in its wake. I am left in such a panic, I forget how to breath. Without warning, I am left with thoughts as previously disclosed, and it blinds me from the truly innocent reality that should exist in my mind. I am so crippled that my nerves  disconnect from their groundings and contort themselves around every other fiber of my being.

Irrationality becomes my rationality. “Give up. Stay quiet. You know nothing of what you speak. You are pathetic. Your attempts are futile. Run away. They don’t need you. They don’t want you. You are better alone. You lose.” If my consumption could speak any audible word, that is what it would say. I have caved into its strangely soothing and welcoming voice, only to ruin the things that have had real meaning in my life. I have fed it, as I continue to do now. But I must continue to battle it, starve it, cut it down, and bury it where it can never be found. I must conquer it. I will not give up. I will not stay quiet. I do know of what I speak and if I fail at these attempts, I will do everything in my power until it surrenders. I am just as needed and wanted in someone’s life as a plant needs the gentle caress of the sun and a cool drink of water. I am not my best alone, and I will win. “ I am worth so much. I am capable of anything. This feeling is not you. It does not control you. Deep breath; ease your mind; calm your heart’s pounding beat; listen; observe; absorb; repeat.”

My consumption is anxiety. What is yours?

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