This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Years ago, when working at a museum, we had a summer competition where children did a museum quiz, filled out their address details and handed them over for a prize draw. I’ll never forgot the child who gave me her entry asking when the competition winner would be announced, she then told me that she would be watching the post every day from the that day on. She was so unbelievably certain that she was going to win the museum teddy bear.
The funny thing is, that is the exact same feeling I get when I submit an entry to a writing competition. There’s been a couple of competitions I’ve entered and thought, meh, could have done better, but the majority of the ones I’ve entered, I end up loving my entries. I then note in my diary the date where they announce the winners, and for some reason I convince myself, or at least daydream that I could have won.
The best time for me is when you’ve entered but don’t know who the winner is, as you still have that little bit of hope. And then, inevitably, I check the winners on the date they’re released and my name isn’t there.
What’s worse, is that for some reason with prizes for writing, they tell you who made the long list. The long list for me is a cruel extension of the fact you haven’t won. I have that awful moment where I see the long list of names, and I get this excitement of, with surely so many names mine has to be on it. I scan the list quickly, and then I agonise over each name as if to double check I didn’t miss my name.
I then torment myself with reading the winning entry, and if they publish them, the runners up too. That’s usually when I start to get really down. Especially if I can’t see what’s special about the winner, or if even worse they’ve written about an idea I’d thought of, but not gone with.
I think it’s because when I sub my books I almost expect agents to turn it down (I reckon I’d keel over if one ever responded positively). For some reason I think that I should have more chance of winning a competition. When I find out I haven’t won I just get hit with a wave of self pity and doubt about my writing that I wonder if the small flicker of chance of winning is worth the hassle of entering.
But a few days after the results are published, when I’ve sworn I’ll never write another word, I’m back typing away at the lap top. Consoling myself that the majority of competitions aren’t aimed at the chick lit market, meaning I am writing out of my genre comfort zone. I also remind myself that if I gave up at every negative response to my writing, I’d have given up a long time ago. And you never know the next time I enter I might just, fingers crossed, make the long list!