So I’m seeing these awesome announcements from gifted writers who not only managed to put out a book, but had the courage to enter them into contests.

I have some of these contests in my bookmarks, but when push comes to shove, I chicken out. I don’t know, maybe I just feel lucky to be published and don’t want to push it.

I have some vague philosophical notions of finding art and competition a poor mix, but in my heart of hearts I know that mostly I lack the intestinal fortitude to put myself out there like that. So how do you? Is it confidence in your work, or just a ‘what they heck, why not?’ or a combination?

Or is it from a fiercely competitive spirit?

I admit, I lack the competitive spirit. I remember the day I lost it, too. I used to play basketball and really enjoyed it. It was exciting, there was a lot of movement and strategy. But then, one day, I was running up and down the court. Back and forth. Back and forth. And then I just planted on one side of the court and thought, “they’ll be back. I’ll just hang out here.”

And that was the end of it. Once you decide that chasing the ball isn’t actually fun and that when everyone returns from running up and down the court, they’ll be more tired than you are, the game is over. Because after that, you think, “What is it, a ball? I don’t care about that ball. It’s not even a particularly attractive ball, and you don’t get to keep it.”

Now, replace that ball with the Marc Jacobs handbag I’ve been eying and you’ll see some competitive spirit. You know, until the bag goes on sale and I can afford it. Plus, bags are hard to dribble.

I’m off on a tangent. And I kind of want to go shopping.

Anyway, there is a competition I’m wanting to enter and I’m trying to screw up the courage to do it. Any words of advice would be appreciated.

Or a handbag. I’d like a handbag.

2 thoughts on “On competing

  1. Hi Clancy
    I entered the first thing I ever wrote, my scifi m/f (unpublished) story in two Romance Writers of Australia competitions.
    I reached the finals in one and the story sat on a New Your editor’s desk for three months waiting to be judged.
    In both cases though the manuscript was assessed and commented on by three people whos remained anonymous. In one case by my peers and in the other by readers.
    It was a good lesson in a number of ways, but the best feedback was actually the negative ones. In one case, I think the reader just didn’t like the genre (scifi) so that warned me that not everyone would enjoy my book for that reason alone, the other made good points that helped me. In some ways the gushy ones didn’t help at all.
    Some RWA writers pursue the competitions (and spend a deal of money in the process). This has been mainly to attract the eye of an agent so she can be NY print published. This can be one goal.
    Does winning a competition help you or help your sales. Possibly, but it’s not a guarantee. It does make you aware of just how many stories there are out there which can be daunting.
    So my advice? It depends on the competition and what you want to get out of the experience.

  2. Thank you for your advice.

    I’m not thrilled with negative comments, who is? But they do help you grow and tell you what’s working and what isn’t. Reading some of my reviews on Goodreads, I find that some of my work is polarizing. Some people are touched, other people aren’t convinced of the emotions. I know the things I write aren’t for everyone (some stories more than others) and there’s definitely room in my ego for criticism. Putting my work up against something else is more daunting. Or maybe just knowing that the stories are so hit or miss for people, I have little faith that my work could go all the way.

    But you’re right. It doesn’t necessarily mean much as far as sales go. You don’t get a special parking space or anything. It’s flattering, but every award I’ve ever had to receive has been met with my extremely awkward response to any compliment. I lose better than I win (probably because I’ve had much more practice at losing 🙂 )

    So, yeah. I don’t know what I want out of the experience and you’re very wise to point that out. I mean, yeah, I’d love to get hooked up with an agent and do this professionally but I’m not sure I’m ready. I’d deal with it if it happened (which is unlikely since I haven’t even tried)

    The award thing I’m considering at the moment would be highly unlikely to win, but it’s an organization I wouldn’t mind supporting with my money, so maybe that in itself would make it worth taking a shot. Call it a donation and don’t be too disappointed when it doesn’t place.

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