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!