Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Contest is Dead, Long Live the Contest

So the big news of the week is that the Missouri Writers Guild Flash Fiction Contest has officially ended.  The winners have been announced, and I am not among them.  No cash prize, no honorable mention.  I'm definitely disappointed, but I'm not heartsick about it.  I was more disappointed, I think, before I remembered that I sent the unedited version of the story to the contest.  There were a lot of typographical errors, plus some slightly confusing language at the end of the story.  I guess that's why I was initially only hoping for an 'honorable mention' in the contest.

The aggravating thing about it, though, is that the story wasn't the best it could have been.  I'll never know how the story would have done if I had polished it more, tightened it up a bit.  That's the price I pay for waiting until the night of the deadline to do the bulk of the writing, though.  My fault.

On the other hand, I'm happy that the thing's over.  I can move on a bit more now.  I have other stories I can work on, and the contest had left me hamstrung.  Since it was my first real contest, I was too concerned with waiting on the results to move on.  That's a good lesson for me, I think.  I've got to keep plugging away and not worry about contests, or whether some magazine will accept my stuff for publication.  I think I felt this way because it was my first real contest.  Losing will be beneficial, though, because it will help me approach the rest of my writing with a greater eye toward detail.

The blow is also softened by the fact that I know I wrote a good story, so there's none of that "My writing is just crap and that's why I lost" attitude.  I've had good feedback on the story from all quarters, both from people who have a vested interest in me and those who don't know me from Adam.

I guess my next 'contest' needs to be developing a portfolio of good work that I can send to MFA programs.  I've got less than a year to develop 20-30 pages of butt-kickin' lit.  It's kind of scary.  20-30 pages doesn't seem like it should be that daunting, but it is because I haven't done it before.  I don't have 20-30 pages worth of completed material.  I can't let that bother me, though.

I must, as the French say, "Keep on truckin'."


Anonymous said...

I had all manner of judgmental feelings toward you concerning this. That is, until I reflected on my pattern of life constipating fixation over the past seven years and my present incapacitation every time I get a paper back from a prof who does not tell me I've written Pulitzer material. Solidarity my friend. Except that I still judge you because I'm so darn sinful.

Rex Queems (the phony)

samuel said...

Stay at it, bro. It is a good story and contests are stupid. Well, they can be.

Not that I know anything, but I think this creative stuff is about doing it, doing it well, then finding your audience and making each other happy in truthful, good ways that reflect the glory of God and result in the glory of God and the joy of people.

Write good things and figure out how to get it in front of the people that give a crap. I am aiming at that.

You do have a gift to offer, to serve your neighbors with (not meaning allegorical bate and switch). Do it. Writers write. I know everyone says that. But just do it. Write on, McDuff, and damned be he who first cries "Hold, those snooty literary snobs don't approve of me."

Joshua Duncan said...

This is why I love getting your comments, Sam. Encouragement infused with humor is worth its weight in gold.