A tentative blog to test the temperature.
I enter a lot of contests. There is a horde of reasons for that, including the need to gather enough gift points to extend my membership level for a few more months, the awareness that I respond better to orders from outside rather than from myself, (the dreadful Oxford comma, against which I am trained to revolt but have recently decided is probably more accurate, since we do actually pause before announcing the last item in a list) and the expansion of horizons into areas I would not otherwise enter.
This has led me to a number of observations about contests. For instance, it has become increasingly noticeable that longstanding members rarely enter contests. Inspection of their portfolios reveals that much of their output is the result of entering contests in the past but, generally, this fades in time and now they either run contests or don’t bother with them at all.
No doubt there are many reasons for this. Most importantly, I think the pointlessness of constant contest entering becomes apparent to them. As long as we write for contests, we are distracted from what, for most of us, should be the main intent: the creation of the great American (or British or Outer Mongolian or whatever) novel. The passing years dictate that, should we retain the ambition for eventual publication, the amusing diversion of contests must be put aside and more serious business knuckled down to.
So I imagine that all those elder WDC statesmen and women are either slaving away at their magnum opuses or, having given up, are keeping up their membership as merely an occasional entertainment.
Which serves to highlight the amazing freedom that those few, like me, who do not entertain dreams of fame and fortune through publication, enjoy. We are free to annoy contests owners with the problem of what on earth to do with yet another entry from us until the day we die. It’s a problem because of course we learn a bit from all our contest entering and it’s hardly fair on the poor newbies who comprise the main fodder of so many contests. The irony being that, by the time they have learned enough to be a serious threat to the old hands, they are already noticing how the contests are drawing them away from their primary intent.
The point is really that the contests are immensely important to WDC. They are the arena in which new writers can hone their skills and become true gladiators of the written word. The natural trend is that they come, they learn and they depart for greater challenges. The best move on to astound the world with their talents, the worst get fed up and wander off to make something else of themselves (the wisest, anyway). What a fine sieve to sort the wheat from the chaff!
Except that there’s me and my few compadres to spoil the fun. Almost makes me happy to be alive!
Word count: 495