But that’s not the point of this post.
Over the past couple of months, I have participated in five writing contests, including Jason’s Midnight Road flash carnival. Of these, I didn’t make the cut in one. In another one, my entry was accepted for publication in an anthology. Yet another one saw me competing against six talented memoir writers. The results of the other two are awaited. So in terms of results you could say I have had some “gains” by entering these contests. But the real gain has been far, far greater than winning or placing.
Each one of the contests saw me taking up a challenge, whether it was writing with precision, condensing memories into something readable, writing letters that would evoke emotions in the reader or pitching a story for a prestigious anthology. Each contest let the writing bird within me flap its wings to stretch them a bit more, ready to discover unseen skies.
Along with the writing side of the challenge came the discipline it entailed. That’s one thing this memoir contest taught me really well. Once the first-round results were announced, the finalists had just one week to turn in another 2,800 odd words from their proposed memoir along with a 500-word synopsis. For me, who didn’t have the wildest idea of making it through the first round, this was an excruciatingly tight deadline. I had to conceive a whole book out of the clouds in just a week? Then I also had to write nearly 3,000 words from it? And even draft the dreaded synopsis? Well, yes to all. And I did it. Whether my entry was up to the mark or not is another question, but at least I didn’t back out of the challenge. There was no scope for that.
My greatest gain from entering these contests has been the feedback I’ve received from the judges and fellow contestants. Both Jason’s contest as well as the memoir one were interactive in nature, making it possible for each entrant to read their competitors’ works. There’s tremendous positive energy in contests organized in this format. With all contestants encouraging and vibing for each other, while at the same time sharing thoughts about their writings, the contests acquire almost a festive spirit of bonding between fellow writers on individual journeys.
That can never be too bad.