Writing Contests

We have a conference today – Corporate Counsel Law – yawn – and I have a moment of downtime. I feel like I haven’t had a moment to breath since I came back from London before Thanksgiving.

Today I want to talk about writing contests. I entered one last year and was disgusted with it. The judges were… well I don’t know what they were thinking. One person, who clearly spent considerable time doing the judging, told me in her score sheet that she’d just taken a writing class and went on to give me a lesson in how to structure sentences. Hmm. Thank you for the time and effort you put into it, but…

I’ve heard from editors that the mistake a lot of first time writers make is that they believe there are ‘rules’ they need to follow, and if they follow them, they will get published. This isn’t true. There is not sentence structure secret that will jump your book to the top of a slush pile. And most writing contest have unpublished, aspiring author chapter members as judges.

A few months ago, against my better judgment, I entered a contest. I entered it because I saw a notice that they were worried they were going to have to drop categories because they didn’t have enough entries. Knowing how frustrating that must be for them, I entered. Plus, let’s be honest, I thought “Hey! Better odds!”

I received a notice a few weeks ago that 1 – They would not be notifying everyone until this coming weekend. (9 days later than stated – I hate that) and 2 – They’d had a record number of submissions. Ugh.

Anyway. I’m frustrated with myself for entering a contest. I know the judging won’t be any different than the first one I entered, and they didn’t need my help anyway. I’ve given up hope of winning and am debating even opening the results packet when I get it.

Anyone else ever enter a writing contest? If so, which one?


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