Color me happy! I entered four pieces of prose in the Kansas Authors state contest this year. They were sent in June and the results would not be known until October. That's a long time to wait. One of the rules of the contest is that no entry can be published before the contest results are announced, which ties up a
story for a lot of weeks into months.
I entered four categories--Short Story, Feature Article, Memoir, and Inspiration. My story, "Christmas Spirit--Lost and Found," won third place in the Inspiration category.
None of the others placed, but the judges did put some nice comments on those entries. On the Feature Article, "A Zoo With No Cages," the judge wrote Beautiful writing! Nice job which tells me that the article must have been close to winning and it also left me feeling encouraged enough to send it to a publication of some sort.Put it on my To-Do list.
The judge for the Memoir category had a full page of general comments for all participants and then one section where she said The part I liked best was __________ I appreciated seeing what had appealed to her in each of those memoir pieces. One of them rather surprised me. It made me think of my blog entry a few days ago about readers perception versus the writer's intent. They are often far apart.
Wrtiers who enter contests and don't win anything sometimes get discouraged and state that they will not be entering anymore contests in the future. It's a shame to do that. It took several years of entering this particular state contest before I won anything, even Honorable Mention. But, as the years went by, and I grew as a writer, I started winning. One year, I won for several entries--a banner year for sure. But besides winning, I gained other things. I learned how to follow guidelines carefully, to wait for a long time. I benefited from comments the judges made, and I felt more confident about entering other writing contests.
Enter contests. Start with smaller, local ones to gain a bit of confidence and move on from there. Consider the entry fees. Some are relatively minor and others quite steep. Weigh the entry fee against what you might gain. But do consider entering contests. There's gold out there waiting, and it isn't always the money.
So, yes--color me happy to have a third place winner. It's been sent to the Chicken Soup for the Soul Christmas book of 2012. And now comes another long wait, as those stories will not be selected until next summer.