Taking a break from Wednesday, which is always the craziest day of my week, to update on my progress in two writing contests. I’m going to go pretty deep here.
I’ve done this contest before and gotten 0 points. 0 points in round 1, 0 points in round 2. Hell, there have been times that I didn’t even bother entering round 2 because I was so dismayed I didn’t get any points.
Let me tell you this truth: when you are a good writer and you don’t even get one little point it stings like hell. Especially when what you wrote was good. Writing, in general, is a painful passion. So much of your brilliance has to be edited to death in order to shine, ideas you have fall flat to others despite being so vibrant in your mind’s eye, rejections are de rigeur, contests are fleeting snatches at hope that usually leave you empty-handed. And, on top of that: no one but other writers understands that. No one really gets just how hard it is to do this. And people view it as a hobby. Which it isn’t. The amount of time it requires goes far beyond anything a sane person would devote to anything this thankless.
That said, I had an epiphany a while back that a.) I wasn’t writing and b.) if I wanted to be a writer I’d have to write and c.) I wasn’t writing. So I put myself back in the game.
Round 1 of NYCMidnight yielded me a fantastic 12 points. Fourth place. Last night I knew the results were coming out for round 2. And I knew I had a decent shot. The round 1 and 2 combined scores, if in the top five in your group, move you beyond the first cut. I noticed my name near the top of my group, but not in one of the five coveted yellow spots. I also noticed that my score was the same as the person in fifth. I didn’t win the tiebreaker.
My round 2 submission (RomCom/nuclear power plant/jar of honey) earned 2 points. So of the top 15 writers I came in 14th. And you know what? I’m okay with that.
But it’s okay that other people are not okay today. There have been tears and anger and a lot of emotion — and I think that is a testament to just how painful a passion writing is.
This round of contests has been pretty eye-opening for me. I am returning to my more chill self of yore and while I have never been one to settle for being just okay, I got through two rounds getting points each time and were it not for the tiebreaker, I could have moved on. Who knows, somewhere in the multiverse a version of me probably did.
And so I am out of NYCMidnight after ranking in the top 15 both of the first 2 rounds and 5th overall in the first two rounds. Am I a little bummed? Sure — I would have loved to move up. But I am learning that this is progress. I’m doing what I love. And I’m getting better. And I have met some really amazing writers doing it, some of whom are moving on and others, like me, who are collecting their thoughts today.
Yeah Write Super Challenge 2
First, I would like to formally apologize to the judges for exposing them to my round 2 submission. It was terrible. Every bit of feedback y’all provided at midnight was spot on. My favorite being: Fiction requires tension. Because, well, that’s fiction 101. I probably should have bowed out gracefully. The prompt freaked me out the moment it came onto the screen and no matter what, I couldn’t come up with anything. A friend posited a really creative take but I failed at incorporating it (two judges agree with me on this. And yes, variations of the word “fail” were common).
I still checked at noon and no, I did not make the cut. But again: I’m okay with that. Probably because I knew there was no way in hell I was going to.
And while I’m not at all surprised, that doesn’t mean I’m ambivalent. That doesn’t mean I’m tossing my hands up and saying, “That prompt was stupid!”. Because it wasn’t. I just could not wrap my head around how to do it right. But I still wrote a story and edited the shit out of it in an attempt to make something that accomplished the goals of incorporating the two parts of the prompt in such a way that they were essential to the overall story.
Here’s what I took away from Yeah Write:
- I loved the feedback, as tough as it was. There wasn’t any tension. I didn’t show how I was incorporating one of the prompts at all, and the other could’ve been better.
- Having a community of writers is incredible — I loved providing and receiving feedback from many talented writers.
- YeahWrite is a great place and you should totally check it out.
When’s the next one?
My final 2016 goal is to start submitting.
Contests provided validation and toughened me up. I’m ready.
In closing: huge shout out to the folks at NYCMidnight, YeahWrite and Fiction War for making these contests possible. And also to the amazing writers I’ve stumbled upon who have allowed me to read their submissions at a time when writers feel most vulnerable.
And to those who are feeling defeated and like throwing up their hands: it’s okay to feel that way. It’s brutal. I feel the way I do because of where I am in my journey and the experiences that have brought me to this moment. You feel the way you do because of where you are in yours and your set of experiences. Neither of us is right. And we may never feel the way the other does. But we did it, and we learned, and now we wait for the next contest and do it all again.