Last month I submitted two pieces to two different contests. One was a 500 word story for a 500 word story contest. I revised a flash fiction piece I’d written during NaNo called “Haunted House”. It was originally over 1,000 words and kind of garbage. I cut it in half and I think that made a better story out of it.
The other piece was a poem that I submitted to Writer’s Digest’s Annual Story Competition. I’ve submitted all sorts of pieces to this contest over the years and I’ve place twice: 10th for genre short story and 5th for script. I’m really looking to reclaim my glory of placing second in a state poetry contest back when I was a sophomore in high school.
I wanted to submit an essay for this contest (it has a variety of categories), but it just didn’t work out for me. That’s something I need more practice on.
I was also going to submit a non-genre short story to another short story contest, but I changed my mind at the last minute. I think the story is fine, but I just have no confidence in my non-genre stories. I’m not a literary writer by any means and my few journeys into that territory have been less than stellar. That story -while not bad in my opinion- will never see the light of day.
To be honest, I don’t have the highest of hopes for either of my entries. I like them both and I think they’re good, but I’m not sure that they’re good enough, you know? But winning wasn’t the main point of me submitting to those contests anyway (thought it would be super swell if I did, don’t get me wrong).
I did it to cultivate good writerly vibes and to send those vibes out into the Universe.
I know how stupid that sounds. But as someone who’s been struggling to write consistently, let alone anything of quality, submitting something -anything- to anywhere is an act of defiance against the issues I’ve had. It’s an offering to the writer gods to show them that I’m still serious about this business, even though I haven’t been as enthusiastic or productive as I’ve been in the past.
It’s about putting those good vibes that I cultivate when I’m working on a piece and I hit that sweet spot groove that I yearn for out into the world and hope that I’m repaid in kind.
It’s an act of faith, in a way. That if I can submit something I’ve written to a contest today, then I can submit something else to an anthology or a magazine tomorrow. It’s a reminder to myself and to the Universe that I’m still game for this even on the days that I doubt myself the most.
It’s just another part of the craft that requires practice. Putting myself and my work out there, valuing my work enough to put it out there, requires repeated attempts until I get it right. Because eventually, I’ll be rewarded.
In the meantime, it’ll be worth the contest entry fees.