See the New Skies

The results of the final round of the memoir contest I mentioned two weeks ago came out this morning. Of the seven finalists, one memoirist’s tale got selected for being read by the editors of three top publishing houses. No, I am not the winner. But then I didn’t expect to be. As I went through the amazing life stories of the other finalists, I felt my entry didn’t deserve to win. Not selling myself short here. Only saying some of the other stories were almost crying out to appear in print. I am glad the judges chose one such story.

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.

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14 thoughts on “See the New Skies

  1. You are graceful in defeat; a very attractive quality. As with everyone else here, I am sorry you didn’t win the contest, but it appears you have taken from it all but what a victory would have gained you. I read your piece; and it was wonderful.

  2. You have such a great outlook, Bhaswati, and I’ve been blessed to have you participate on my blog. I agree that you’ve won if you’ve accepted the challenge, taught someone, and learned something yourself in the process. Placing in a contest has more to do with that particular piece, not overall writing skill.

  3. Personally I know firsthand all the effort and dedication you put into this particular contest. Whether you won or not, I can tell you won a lot of experience. That is priceless. So proud of you 😀 That’s something wonderful about these contests, the feedback and the experience, those can never be lost. Many fortunes in the future, Sury!

  4. I think you encapsulated everything beautifully, Bhas when you said “that individual journey.”The winners faced their time of victory on their journeys…when a number of roads including yours, came together to meet as one.And you are such a good writer. It’s only matter of a very short time now when the alarm will sound for you.But the journey itself…I find the writing journey so full of wonder, discovery and reinvention, don’t you.I look forward to celebrating each of your writer’s footsteps towards your rainbow.love

  5. Scott, thanks for the commiseration, though I hardly deserve it. I am still not putting a lid to the work that started because of this memoir contest. Will need to stack up all the best wishes of friends like you :)Jason, thanks. It’s been real pleasure to participate in your contests. The camaraderie writers exhibit in such “open” contests is truly amazing. Thanks for being such a wonderful host. Cesar, many, many thanks for being with me on the journey and for willing to have your brain picked on endlessly. :PYou are right on about the experience and feedback being priceless. Add to that the solid support of friends such as you :)Susan, thanks a ton for the heartfelt encouragement. I can’t agree more with you about the journey. Therein in lies all the joy and beauty. And if you enjoy the ride while it’s happening, you are a winner already, aren’t you?And you are such a wonderful writer, too. You make hearts bounce with joy with the flight of your words. I shall be there too, soaking in the lights when your fireworks go up 🙂

  6. You know Bernita, I have always been lucky with teachers in my life. I’ve been blessed to get their warm encouragement and selfless giving. And recently, you entered my list of great writing mentors. :)Theresa, welcome to my blog. You are right about contests being a drain on the writer in some cases. But I think it depends a lot on writers themselves. Apart from the physical strain, writers also subject themselves to much emotional stress during contests. All of that is unnecessary, I feel. I don’t do that. As soon as the physical effort of turning in my submission is over, I feel relieved.

  7. Sorry that you didn’t win the contest Bhaswati. But you’ve come out of it a better person than the already wonderful person that you are. I’m proud of you for continuing to take on the challenges that you do. You’re an inspiration to me and others who are trying to make it in the writing world. dil se,Simi

  8. Aww, Simran. You are so sweet. I can’t thank you enough for your kind words. We are in this together; might as well exchange notes as we continue with our voyages, no?

  9. I’m sorry you didn’t win, but it’s good that you got something out of it. It’s obvious you enjoyed the ride which I can see you know it is as good as winning. Keep up the good work!

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