I had a real Good News/Bad News experience yesterday. An editor of a website that deals in memoirs written soley by women notified me that I'd won an Honorable Mention in their memoir contest that had a food theme. The entry was to be accompanied by the recipe that coordinated with the story.
I sent a story I'd written a long time ago about my grandmother's date muffins. The editor took the time to point out some phrases in my entry that she particularly liked. Winning the Honorable Mention and receiving personal comments from the editor filled my confidence and accomplishment balloon quite nicely. The story will be published on the website in early June.
I clicked on the link to read about the first place winners (two people tied) and any other information about the contest. As I read, my balloon began leaking! There were only 7 entries, 2 tied for first place and the other 5 all received an Honorable Mention. I didn't feel like a winner any longer. I felt like the kids in the class whose teacher gives everyone a blue ribbon for their art project, not wanting to hurt anyone's feelings.
Life is about competition. Careers are made or lost via competition. Kids in sports face competition. And writers enter contests with the hopes of rising higher on the ladder to writing success, passing up others who weren't prize winners. Even if there were only 7 entries, I would prefer seeing one 1st place and maybe 1 or 2 Honorable Mentions. The editor did stress that all the entries they received were worthy of publication, that all were well written. Even in a contest with hundreds of entries, you might find the majority well-written, but some should stand above the others.
Yes, that balloon of confidence and accomplishment sprang a leak, but it's still inflated enough from other contests, other publications. And best of all, I learned a lesson. All contests are not equal.