Over the last few years I’ve discovered something. I’m a contest junkie.
I suppose I should have figured it out long before I did. Back when I was writing short fiction I would have days when I would scour the internet for short story contests, hoping to find just the right one to enter, maybe a themed contest to spark my imagination, or maybe the perfect contest venue for an old favorite that hadn’t yet found a home.
For a long time I was a regular in the Writers of the Future contest. I even made it to the semifinals once, the prize for which was a great critique by K.D. Wentworth.
For several years I took on the challenge of entering Family Circle’s short fiction contest despite mainstream fiction being pretty much outside my comfort zone. Much to my surprise, one year I got the call that I won.
After getting serious about writing novel-length fiction, much to my delight, the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA) was just getting rolling. I’ve entered every year it’s been open, for five years total, with four different books. Three times (including this year) I’ve made it to the semifinals. The other two times I didn’t made it out of the gate.
But no matter what, entering the contest has become a compulsion, a challenge to myself to have another manuscript written and polished come contest time. For me that's prize enough.
But here’s the thing. I never go into any of the contests expecting (or even hoping too hard) to win (though of course winning is always nice).
For me, it’s more the excitement of the competition, the anticipation of the results, the high of making it to the next round. It’s the communities that spring up around these contests. It’s the camaraderie that forms between contestants despite the competition. It’s the friendships I make, ones that remain long after the contest is over.
But even more more, it’s the potential that exists in each competition, especially now that I’m submitting novels rather than short stories. It’s the knowledge that each one that I enter could be THE contest, could be the door that opens, could be the thing that changes everything for me.
So of course I’m a contest junkie because how on earth could I pass that up?
So tell me…are you a contest junkie too? What contests have you entered? What have you gotten out of them?