Writing contests can be a drag.
They’re definitely the best way to get experience and exposure. The market isn’t very open to poetry and short stories, but literary journals are. Contests offer a cash prize and a snazzy addition to your résumé. There’s only one problem.
They’re kind of hard to win.
This is obvious. If you don’t realize that the odds are against you going in, you’re either clueless or hilariously overconfident. I’m out of high school, which means I don’t qualify for most teen competitions anymore. Now I’m up against writers of all ages: 60-year-old contest veterans, people with six novels to their name, poets with more awards than pictures on their wall. I know my odds are microscopic.
Still, when I add up the cost of entry fees, paper, ink, and postage and set it against my projected winnings ($0), life looks grim. What’s the point? What do I hope to gain from this excerise in futility?
I don’t know. I really don’t. All I know is that I have to keep trying. I want all these terrible poems and creepy short stories to mean something. For someone else to agree that they have worth. I need to prove to myself that the people who suggested I switch to engineering or chemistry or ‘useful’ fields weren’t right all along. So I keep sending out emails and envelopes, hoping that someone somewhere will give the girl with the morbid fiction a chance.
Maybe someday it’ll happen.