Hello to all writers out there, this is Adair Heitmann writing on how to make losing contests work for you. One of my 2011 writing goals is to enter contests. Recently I did just that. I had a ball writing an 800 word essay portraying 20 years of my life in one location into a meaningful story. My writing critique group vetted and helped me tell the story I really wanted to write. I revised and polished the essay until it shone, then I sent it out . . . and waited, waited, waited for the results to come back.
When I found out that I did not place, my shoulders slumped over my computer. I stood up, walked out of my upstairs office, down the wooden stairs into the sunlit kitchen and stood at the kitchen counter eating Triscuits and American cheese, all the while sighing and looking out the kitchen window. The soggy lawn reflected my dejected mood. I washed my comfort food down with a glass of blueberry pomegranate juice cut with seltzer and felt “Oh woe is me!” After about 10 minutes, I was ready to go back up to my writing office and resume work.
By then, I was genuinely thrilled for a member of my Wednesday Writing Critique Group who placed second in the contest. I was also anxious to read all the winning entries to learn what they had that I didn’t.
For the inner child in all writers I think it is important to feel the pain of loss, even wallow in it for a moment or two, then get back up on the horse. I’m now energized to submit the same essay to other contests and publications. Just because one organization turned me down, it doesn’t mean they all will. When I revisit my essay, I’m still proud of it, it’s a good story and the bottom line is I felt happy while writing it. That alone is a reward.
1. This became the topic of today’s blog.
2. I’ll write a different version of this story in my own professional blog.
3. Congratulating my writing group member via email, in person and publically on Facebook and in Twitter, helped me put it all in perspective.
4. I’ll tweak and submit the same essay in a different venue.
For me, I’m back to the drawing board, sharpening my pencil and still feeling the delight of being a writer, losing contests and all.
Until next time, keep on writing.