Sunday, January 4, 2015

Writing Contests

In my inbox lies another Writers Digest short story contest invitation.  The due date on it is January 16th.  If I want to enter, I need to get moving.

The contest itself isn't very involved - 1500 words.  I can do that in a single sitting one afternoon.  In fact, that's how I produced my entries that placed back in 2011 and 2012.  What it represents, however, is so much more.

I think the draw behind such contests for writers isn't the prize money, although that's nice, but rather the validation that comes with even placing.  Let's face it - for all of our fragile egos, most of us still think we're pretty darn good at this writing thing, even when others dispute that.  But when an outside source, especially one as credentialed as Writers Digest, confirms that we have a modicum of talent, it makes what we're doing seem more worthwhile.

That's because, at the heart of it, we're afraid that people won't like what we write.  Yes, we all write for the joy of it, we write because we're compelled to, blah, blah, blah.  However, most of us are terrified that someone will tell us we stink.

A writing contest, on the other hand, is kind of like a no-risk investment.  We send in our stuff, and if we place, then YIPPEE!  If we don't place, we never hear about it, and we certainly don't receive personal feedback on how awful our entry was.  We can assuage ourselves with empty platitudes that we didn't hit the right note with the judges, or that somehow our entry never even made it in(some snafu with the form).  When we place or win, though, it lets us know that others think we have talent as well.

Sometimes these contests are a little bothersome.  Entering them takes us away from our "real" efforts, and the restrictions can limit us(I like longer stories that take way more than 1500 words to tell), but that doesn't make the thrill of entering without the risk of ego-shattering criticism any less of a lure.

I'll have to write something this week and send it in.  I don't yet know what that'll be(and I hope I figure it out before too much longer), but I hope it sparks me to get more into this.  After all, my ego could sure use it.

No comments:

Post a Comment