Are you a writer? Do you believe you are a good writer? Do you write just for fun? Do you plan to maybe someday submit your work to be published? Have you ever been rejected? Are you afraid of rejection slips? The following is what prompted me to ask these questions.
I very often hear that a writer won’t submit their short stories to contests that the big boys (like Glimmer Train, for instance) host because of the entry fees. Really? Seriously? Fifteen dollars for a chance at winning twelve-hundred dollars, twenty copies of the book and being officially published in a respectable issue of something isn’t worth that kind of pocket change to you? It makes me wonder.
I think what’s really going on is that writers have no faith in themselves, and rarely actually try to better themselves in their craft. They write a few short stories that friends and family declare are great, and they just plateau there. Why fix what ain’t broken, I guess. But when it comes time for other literary types to really put a magnifying glass to their work, the interest is lost. Why?
It’s because somewhere inside, they know they aren’t good enough to place in a contest of that caliber and also know they aren’t going to take any real steps to improve. So, they chuck their stuff up all over the Internet and eventually self-publish a collection of their own short stories (which, by the way, are very likely in dire need of an edit and polish). This scenario plays out every single day in Writerville. Where’s the drive? Where’s the fire? What happened to the desire to win, to succeed?
I’ll wager the entry fee to a short story contest that these very same people, the ones to whom a twenty-dollar bill is like a gold brick, spend twice and three times that much in a single evening out enjoying themselves. So then it simply comes down to drive and sacrifice. Hell no you aren’t winning any real contests if you would rather throw your entry fee money into bowling down at the lanes or having a few drinks with friends. Nobody said being a writer was easy. It’s tough as nails, which is exactly what your attitude about succeeding has to be.
Do I enter the “big money” contests? You bet I do. Have I won yet? Nope. Will I? Yes. Yes I will, and I don’t care how long it takes. Writing is either a pastime or a dream for you, and it’s time to be honest about which category you fall into. Being a published writer whose bills are paid by that writing is my dream, my personal plateau. If yours is just to show your friends and family what a good quick tale you can spin and then get it on the Internet as fast as possible, that’s great! Then you are already a success, because that is really, really easy to do.