My first foray into the writing world was submitting my work to a local contest. The contest was cancelled due to a lack of interest and I got my story and entry fee back, but that was a pretty big step for me. It was the first time I let someone outside of a very specific group read something I’d written and judge me on it.
That contest didn’t pan out, but it gave me the courage to submit my work to others. My first real success as a writer was winning 10th place in the genre category in the 77th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition. Imagine my surprise to open up my copy of the magazine and see my name listed among the top ten as I hadn’t been notified yet.
My story didn’t get published, but I saw my name in print. Someone thought my story was good enough to beat out at least 90 other people (the top 100 was listed on the site). It was an incredible ego boost and it encouraged me to move beyond contests and start submitting to publications.
Submitting to contests was a good first step for me. It let me ease into things. Not placing in a contest wasn’t the same as getting rejected in my head. Submitting a story and getting it rejected was more personal. My hide wasn’t thick enough to handle that yet. But losing a contest was different. I’d not won lots of things. That was easier to deal with.
Those first few contests and that first win really helped set the tone for me when it came to dealing with rejection. Let’s face it, submitting to a publication is a lot like entering a contest. You hope to win and get the prize, but lots of times you get that letter that lets you know that you’ve lost.
I’ve found so many ways now to deal with rejection that, while I get bummed and frustrated sometimes, I’ve never been devestated and rarely thought about giving up.
And I still have an appreciation for contests. Now that I’ve got that regular income from the day job, I can afford the fees once again. I once again entered the Writer’s Digest Story Competition. I’m hoping for a repeat of last time, if not a straight out win.
But if I lose, no big deal. I’ll just move on to the next contest and try this one again next year.
That’s what winners do.
Story By The Numbers
Submitted: 2 (“Another Deadly Weapon” is my contest entry; “Such a Pretty Face” is still out)
Ready: 9 (“Soul Sister” joins the growing list)