Writing Contests...The Good, The Bad, and the UnavoidableIf I decided to take a poll on how aspiring writers feel about entering writing contests, I'm certain the answers would run the gamut. From I hate those stupid judges who know nothing about writing, to contests are the best thing since sliced bread.
A low score, and harsh (though possibly accurate) comments can crush the dreams of an aspiring writer. I've had some down right nasty things said about my books. Some of them, while hurtful, were true, and I became a better writer after taking the advice offered. Others were just mean-spirited and I am convinced the judges were just bitter hags sitting on top of a massive pile of rejection letters and wanting to inflict pain on anyone who even attempted to write. The key is I didn't allow those mean judges to get to me. Well, at least not that much.
Because, you see, the flip side to the low score is getting a high score. Oh, yeah.
I've never used illegal drugs in my life, but if the feeling is anything akin to what happens when I get a 98/100 on a contest, I can totally understand the drug epidemic. Receiving kudos for your hard work is electrifying. When someone you don't know (and who doesn't know you) showers honest praise over your characters or writing voice, you have no choice but to smile like a fool for days and days.
Someone who I'm sure is still smiling is my good friend Cynthia Justlin, who just received first place in the Where the Magic Begins contest. Talk about a HUGE accomplishment! I cannot wait until some smart editor buys Cynthia's book, Her Own Best Enemy. I will be the first to pre-order it. Congratulations again, Cynthia!
It's amazing to place in a writing contest, even if it's not the top spot, but you just never know what you're going to get. And that's where the unavoidable frustration comes into play. Often, you'll get both high and low scores in the very same contest. Yet, that's what happens with books, too. Everyone will not love your book, but thankfully, everyone will not hate it either.
So, if you're contemplating entering a contest, I think you should go for it. If nothing else, it will help you get thicker skin and be prepared to handle how the public reacts once your book hits the store shelves. (I guess I'll find out if this statement is true in a few months).