Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving! On a day when many people don’t know who to thank for all their blessings, I’m grateful I do know the God who gives to us so freely and in such abundance.

I hate to compete in anything because I hate to lose. Disappointment can stab like a knife to the gut. (In my case a liver biopsy comes to mind.) So I’d rather avoid the pain by running from the source of that pain. A writers’ contest can bring momentary glory or sheer misery, anger, loss of self esteem, frustration. If you get the picture you’ve probably suffered through the anguish of losing and maybe more than once. But even if you don’t see your name on the finalist list, at least you won’t see it spelled out in bright red capital letters on the loser’s list either! There’s no public humiliation involved. Just personal discouragement. But we’re all resilient enough to overcome in a minor setback with sympathy from a writing buddy or a caramel light frappuccino with whip cream.

Not finaling in contests hurts almost as much as a rejection from an editor. But not quite. Contests are only dress rehearsals. You put your work out on the stage to see how well you perform and hope you shine. You’re spotlighted. But a rehearsal is still just a learning experience. If you falter you can correct your mistakes before you’re out in front of the audience, or in our case, an editor. Contests are opportunities to see problems you’d never discover on your own, hear about your strengths and weaknesses and grow as a writer. Look at the positive side—even if your scores are low. You’ll be better prepared to submit to an editor and that’s worth much more than the price of a contest.

On the other hand, you might final or even win!


  1. So true, Cara. I much prefer private humiliation. :-) Not that editors make our rejections public, but if we use contests to polish our manuscripts before we submit, we've got a far better chance of impressing than appalling.

    I'm looking forward to our family Thanksgiving dinner. Besides the food, we share what we're grateful for. We're truly blessed. Happy Thanksgiving!!

  2. I'm truly grateful to have been given the desire to write. This profession is filled with wonderful people who are eager and willing to help you accomplish your dream. Those generous and giving contest judges far outnumber the curmungeons.

    And today especially I am thankful for this desire placed in my heart and for the writer pals in my life who support me on this journey of highs and lows which otherwise would be so lonely.

  3. We had a delicious Thanksgiving dinner today. Everything was so good!

    Cara, thanks for this post. Many times I've entered a contest as a "dress rehearsal" for the real thing. The feedback is invaluable.

    Also, Seekerville readers might get the impression that Seekers win contests every time they enter. Not so. I've had my share of non-finalling contest entries, and a few of those really hit hard. Those are the times you might have to pull out your scrapbook and read over the encouraging comments from past judges and critique partners, and email your bestest buds for commiseration, then, try, try again!

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  4. I didn't check in until now. A post, Cara that reminds us of all we've got to be thankful for...when things go well. :)
    I'm half asleep from triptophan. or whatever that is...or maybe I'm just stuffed to the gills with turkey and pumpkin pie. but it was an easy day to feel blessed.
    God bless you to all the folks who hang around Seekerville. And thank you all for stopping in.

  5. Thanks Cara, It has been a wonderful Thanksgiving--a time to remember all of our blessings. I'm with you Tina. Its wonderful to have friends to support, cheer for, empathize, and celebrate with. I'm thankful for my gift and for all of you.

  6. I love how you call contests a dress rehearsal--so true!!!

  7. What wonderful thoughts, Cara and you other ladies. I, like Tina and I imagine the rest of you, am thankful for the desire and ability to write. For the drive to keep learning and persevering even when it gets tough.

    I am thankful for judges and coordinators who donate their time and expertise to contests...which is many of you.

    I am thankful for my Seekers and that contests brought us together.


  8. Amen, Cara! We are blessed to know Him as we do. He makes everything -- from contests to "the call" -- world's better! Writing and God -- like turkey and dressing -- sooooo good together. (Sorry, I'm still in the food mode)