May 14

I'd Rather Be Rejected

A contest notice said, "One overall winner will be awarded First Prize, $400 plus publication. Nine other authors and poets will each win publication."

Like everything else in publishing, terminology changes. One's manuscript was either accepted or rejected. Now, with writing contests so pervasive, if one finishes out of the money, one at least might "win" publication. It's really very nice of this contest to offer publication to nine -- a large number -- of also-rans. With a prize of publication they will surely feel like winners.

A truth is going bald here. "Winning" and "losing" was how writers always took the matter spiritually, although we said "acceptance" or "rejection." I am first to agree that "rejected" is a horrible name for the fact that an editor did not select my manuscript out of the 3,000 he received. But I'd rather my manuscript be "rejected" than have it labeled "a loser."

Do you prefer that too? You can still publish in periodicals without entering their contests. Publishers still accept "submissions"!
May 08


Lately I’ve been tempted to enter writing contests -- local or online. Ach! They are everywhere and are hard for me to resist! Just accompany that 250-word essay or couple of poems with that $10 or $15 "entry fee." Write that check, or give it up to Paypal, because…

PRIDE: The contest is so local/small/restricted that for me it is no contest at all, and my work will surely place, although odds are it will win.
GREED: I need the prize money. I’ll take $100, $50. Or $10.
GLUTTONY: I don’t care what it is or what it costs, I don’t care what I send or who is judging it or how low I’m stooping: I want lots of prizes and I want them now.
SLOTH: If I win or place, it’s an easy gold star to add to my resume, and if not, at least entering the contest was easier than market research or having actual relationships or sending out stuff that might get rejected. Besides, I can only finish things if I’ve got a deadline. . .
ANGER: I’ll win one of these penny-ante writing contests if it’s the last thing I do.
LUST: Sure would like to get my hands on that [prize]!
ENVY: I never saw a prize that I didn’t deserve more than the actual winner did.

Pray for me!