I’M TEMPTED. I’LL MULL IT OVER FOR A WHILE AND DECIDE; YES OR NO.
While I do this blog almost every day I also have other, larger, projects that I’m working on. Short stories, Full length novels, and other junk are what I have percolating on the other burners.
This morning I got an email about a contest – a contest for Writers calling on them to churn out 10,000 words of a novel. The contest does not offer fame and fortune which would be an immediate signal to hit the Delete button. What it did offer was feedback and, frankly, that is much more valuable than any prize or promise.
I am tempted.
10,000 words is not a lot. This Blog is about 4,000 words a week and that is painless…at least from my Point of View.
I have entered only one such contest in my life. That was about twenty years ago. It was sponsored by a chain of coffee shops in New England. All entries had to address the topic of “Irish Coffee” – two of my favorite things in the world.
I cranked out a short story about a couple of drunks on a transcontinental flight. I’ve put it up on this Blog on Fiction Saturday a time or two. Here is a link to if you are curious.
My wild story won third place. There was no prize other that appearing on their website. I didn’t get so much as a cup of coffee out of it. I was really OK with that because I got some good feedback from the judges. That was my real prize.
Without feedback the Writer is laboring in a vacuum. To improve you need to have somebody tell you what they think of your work. It doesn’t help if all they tell you is that “Your story is wonderful” or if “It stinks like a month old Carp.” You need “The Why.” I’ve been in Writer’s Groups a few times where the other Writers were too shy or afraid to give honest critiques. That made them worthless.
So I’m going to delve deeper into the bowels of this 10,000 word challenge to see if it shows promise. If it does I may slip into harness and see what happens. As far as I have read to this point it might be worth the effort. At least they aren’t making outlandish promises like, “You’ll be the next Stephen King!” or dangling a big cash prize like “First Prize is 37 billion dollars!” It looks like what they are offering is a kind of online Writer’s Group with feedback from other entrants and the judges.
The email did dangle a nebulous “Award” as a prize for the winners, but that seems to be nothing more than a chrome-plated “Atta Boy” slap on the back. That and a fresh tea bag will get you a nice drink – if you can come up with a cup of hot water.
There must be a thousand “Writing Contests” out there every year. Some of them are legit, sponsored by real magazines and universities. Too many of them charge entry fees. An “Entry Fee” for a contest? This ain’t the Kentucky Derby and I ain’t no Thoroughbred. If they want money from me I wave goodbye. But I am tempted.
I’ll try to learn some more before I make up my feeble mind – and then I’ll flip a coin. “Heads” I start writing, “Tails” I block them forever.
I’ll let you know what I decide.
P.S. l finally decided that I had neither the time or the desire. Maybe next year.
Good post, John. And I remember the story that won third place. It was excellent!
Third place is nice, but it is a bit like kissing your sister.
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I get it.