by Caren Crane
Contests. We love them, we loathe them. And by "we", I mean all of us. Think about it. Did you ever, as a child (or maybe as an adult), squirm with anticipation waiting for the Miss America Pageant? How about the World Series? The World Cup, maybe? For the uber-geeks among us, the Scripps National Spelling Bee? Dancing With The Stars? Or, my personal favorite, the Winter Olympics? (what is cooler than the luge?!)
Competition appeals to some primal need we humans have to compete. To prove we are bigger, better, faster, more. Writers are not immune to contests, by any means. As a matter of fact, many of you know that the Banditas all have one thing in common: we were all 2006 Golden Heart finalists. Some of us have confessed to being a bit fixated on contests, entering more than a few at a time.
We sweat over entries, agonize over synopses, hammer those first three sentences or pages or chapters until they gleam and scream and beg for mercy. You will often hear us crowing (or is that the Golden Rooster?) about a Bandita being a finalist or placing in a contest. It works us all into a lather, let me tell you! A win for one Bandita reflects well on all Banditas (and honorary Banditas, too)!
But why do we care so much? Why not simply write and submit and write some more and submit some more? Frankly, it's the rejection. All we get from most of our submissions is some form of "not for me". And truthfully, all most of us get from a contest is a certificate or plaque or, if we're very lucky, a piece of jewelry. Ah, but there is always the brass ring. The ring, my precioussssss!
*ahem* In our case, the brass ring is a request from an agent or editor wanting to read more. To read the whole manuscript. To buy the manuscript. It happens. We have seen it happen to writers we actually know! So we keep writing, submitting, writing some more...and entering contests. Right now, many of us AYU (as yet unpublished) Banditas are polishing our Golden Heart entries. We hope - we pray - that the stars will align and we will once again be Golden Heart finalists. That some wonderful editor who shares our vision and adores our prose will read us, love us, publish us. Then we will all be winners, even you! Because you will get to read our books. *g*
Meanwhile, what are your favorite contests? Do you watch to see who wins or who loses? Do you ever, in a moment of mean-spirited weakness, hope someone trips on the Miss America runway or drops his partner on Dancing With The Stars? Did you ever vote for Sanjaya just to piss off a friend or coworker? Please share!
Meanwhile, I have to finish polishing my new manuscript for the Golden Heart...