Faye Arcand, My Twisted Writer Brain…

Whaddya Mean I Didn’t Win?

What the…? There must be some sort of mistake. I know my story was destined to be the winner of a recent contest and it makes absolutely no sense that I didn’t even make the list let alone take top honors.

There’s only one explanation and that is that the judges must’ve missed it or maybe the submission process is all screwed up. I’m always leery when I upload a file and can’t actually ‘see’ it. Maybe I sent them a recipe for Auntie Wilma’s meatloaf–which of course is the most mouthwatering savory dish this side of the Rocky Mountains but…–did my story even get considered.

That’s it, right?

So, I go back and read my entry to prove my point.

OMG…in the third line I see a typo. Damn.

I read on. My tenses seems a bit twisted… oh dear. Am I switching between past perfect negative and present past continuous? (Ugh…I don’t even know if those are real btw so don’t blow my cover.)

Maybe, in all honesty, the issue is that someone actually did read my entry and that’s why I didn’t win.

But, with that being said, I do want to qualify the fact that it is a good story. It will not go to waste as I’ll clean it up a bit and find it a home. The story is full of tension and has great character development. It’s edgy, thought-provoking, and painfully real–maybe too much so.

Writing a short story is not easy. To create a believable and likable character, setting, and conflict in a limited word count is an art. Unlike a novel it doesn’t have time to marinate and come around, it has to resonate immediately or it falls flat. A connection must be made with the reader. Personally, I have a problem with stories that open up with a 54-word sentence. If I have to go back and reread the first line then the author has already lost me.

It can be hard to put stuff up for judging only to be turned down in favor of something I see as nonsensical or artsy-fartsy. I want to read and absorb a story that flows naturally. I don’t want to have to dissect a piece and prepare a dissertation to try and explain it to someone else. Um, no thanks.

I am literally not literary enough.

I try to do my homework in knowing where I’m submitting to and who the judges are, but in some writing contests the judges aren’t announced until after the deadline and there’s no guideline as far as content.

That’s where I fall apart I think.

I believe that I’m too commercial–too contemporary–for some of these writing contests that take months to settle. My stories don’t have the long prose-y paragraphs or the fluffy descriptions …they’re filled with angst and dialogue and maybe even an f-bomb or two. And, I’ve decided I’m okay with that. I learned a long time ago that there simply is no way to please everyone. I’m not prepared to sell my soul and be something I’m not so I need to let it go and move on.

**heavy sigh**

I have to tell you all that I do have an entry pending in the nonfiction CBC. I know it’s destined to win. lol.

My serious congratulations to all the successful CBC stories and authors. I’m more than a little jealous but also happy for my fellow scribes. I’m thankful that I’m not a judge.

Keep writing everyone and don’t let your brain get in the way of your work.

12 thoughts on “Whaddya Mean I Didn’t Win?”

  1. Thanks for this… As writers, we need to love what we do and keep doing it, hopeful our work will reach the readers it’s meant to touch. I enter the contest you’re referring to, but have learned to expect the unwanted outcome: there’s so much great competition!

    1. Hi Marilyn! Nice to “meet” you. Contests are tough but I also look at them as an excuse to create. This year I really thought I had it. It’s like thinking your kid is the cutest in the contest…lol. There are a TON of great writers out there but never forget that none of them are YOU.

  2. That’s so funny about the meatloaf. So entertaining your posts.
    I have a story I’ve read a thousand times. Only the other day I discovered I have a…you’re instead of your. Holy Moly!

    1. Hi Heather. That is too funny but I so get it. So often we read our own stuff over and over again without even actually seeing it. Glad you enjoyed the blog. Yummy meatloaf…lol

    1. lol…YES Norma! Submit them. I always think nothing ventured and all that… You really do need to watch the entry fee and the prizes. I won’t enter any if it’s a single winner. Have you tried Writer’s Weekly 24 hour contest? It is only $5 to enter and you receive a prompt Saturday morning and have to submit the story by designated time on Sunday. Three top winners and then lots of door prizes. I won $350 US a couple years ago and now I freelance for them.

  3. Amazing blog! Do you have any hints for aspiring writers? I’m hoping to start my own site soon but I’m a little lost on everything. Would you suggest starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m completely overwhelmed .. Any tips? Kudos!

    1. Hi Josh. Sorry for the delay in the answer but your message went into spam. So thanks for the compliments. Very much appreciated. I really like wordpress. I find it very user friendly which works for me. Any writer wanting to start a blog needs to find a platform that they’re comfortable in using. For blogging make sure your content is consistent and interesting…I think thats the biggest thing. People begin a blog and the fizzle out two months later. Consistency is the key.
      I’ll do a blog with specific tips for new writers but I sure hope that helps for now.
      Thanks for stopping by.

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