Tuesday, February 12, 2008

No Contest


I’m thinking of entering a few contests.

Now, I realize that, for most people, this isn’t much of a statement. But I’m a veritable Scrooge when it comes to contests. I have my reasons. Like the fact that most contests require an entry fee. Or that my work is tied up for long months while I await inevitable disappointment. And then there’s the staggering odds stacked against me. We all know jillions of people enter these things. I’ve done the math and I know I have a far better chance of getting my stuff accepted into smaller literary markets. The fact is, ever time I enter a contest, I know one of two things will eventually happen.

1) I’ll read the entry that beat mine and be pissed off because I honestly think mine was better, or
2) I’ll read the entry that beat mine and be so impressed that I’ll be embarrassed for even entering.

Either way, the end result is the same: I’m out my entry fee and I feel really lousy.

So why do I keep entering contests?

I think it all comes down to psychobabble. You know, all that stuff about needing validation and formal acceptance. Every writer has longed for at least a slice of that. I think what really sucks me into entering a contest is the possibility of glamour. How exciting to see the words FIRST PLACE next to one’s name! For one fleeting moment, the winner gets to be the most popular girl or boy in the senior class, the one all the other kids envy and want to be like.

Yep, it’s pitiful. A woman of my age should know better. But that’s why I throw money at contests and anti-aging face unguents and an endless stream of exercise tapes. Contests represent the chance to be something more, something new that we’ve never been before. So I get out the checkbook and the big manila envelopes. Take my money. I’ll just keep reaching for the sky.

1 comment:

Stephen said...

As for contests, I guess the things I look for are the prospects of free advertising (based on the circulation of the magazine which publishes the winning story) and building my writing resume. While I haven't submitted to a glut of contests (for the very reasons you mentioned in your posting), I still look for contests that have the right fit. Even this morning, I was looking through a copy of The Writer, seeing if any of the lastest contest postings might present some opportunities.

This issue is an excellent choice for your weekly posting, as it is something that all serious writers deal with. Thank you for sharing your perspective on it.