I’m about to enter one of my two finished books into a contest. And I’m nervous. Why, do you suppose, would I feel nervous about entering a contest? If you’ve been-there-done-that you know why: the sense of vulnerability, the balancing of high hopes on one hand & the anticipation of blunt criticism on the other, and the fear that one or more of the judges will find the entry as enjoyable as a scorching case of full-body boils.
Then there’s the fact that many will enter but only one can win. Dumb pesky odds.
Maybe I’m afraid that people will know that I didn’t win and will want to talk about it…out loud…in public. Maybe even in front of other writers. And then they’ll say, “Hey, you’re name starts with an L, just like the word LOSER!” Ouch.
So maybe I’m afraid that, in order to avoid the topic all together, I’m going to have to take charge of the conversations by getting their attention on something slightly less embarrassing, like the curly perm I had back in the early 80’s…or the time I was on a date and when I went to take a drink of my Dr. Pepper I forgot there was a straw in the cup until it went in my nostril…or I might have to discuss the purple parachute pants purchase and related singing/dancing activities…or the time my friend and me started his backyard on fire trying to destroy our toothpick houses we’d made in school…and, unfortunately, the list goes on and on. Yep, I’m a Dork with a capital D. But at least it doesn’t start with L.
But there’s another word that starts with L: LEARN.
I enter contests because win or lose I can learn more about writing. About the strengths and weaknesses of MY writing. Maybe someday I’ll stop being nervous every time I enter a contest. But I doubt it. But if I ever stop learning from entering contests, then–maybe then–it’s time to stop entering.
Do you get nervous about contests? Why?