Saturday, July 4, 2009

Contests I Didn't Win

When I was in Cape Town I kept meeting people, other writers, and they'd say- "Oh you're Lauri Kubuitsile- you win everything!". So as a service to truth, I would like to admit that I am a writing contest whore. I will enter almost any contest that requires words on paper. Because of this, it may appear as if I win quite a few contests, when in actual fact I lose an extraordinarily large amount too, but like most writers I usually never admit it. But today I want to come clean.

I recently lost three contests in a row, and though my ego is horribly bruised, I'm secretly happy. I have a three bad things rule. Once I've had three bad things happen, I always get quite a good run of lovely things. It makes for an odd life because when something bad happens to me I very quickly start searching for two more bad things so I can be set free again. I have a contest that I entered that I really, really, really want to get something in so I'm hoping I lost these three contests so I might get some good luck with that one. (I know-strange screwed up pseudo-science which my husband, who believes science is an interesting theory, would be very proud of)

So what are my three losses? Here they are in all of their glory:

1. Binnacle Flash Fiction Contest
I read about this contest on Tania Hershman's blog and she spoke about the lovely way they publish the stories on cards and I so wanted to get those cards, but sadly I got position 114. No one wants a position that has more than one digit, but the organisers thought I might like to know I was 114. The only good thing was that there were more than 115 entries so at least that's something. But I still don't get the cards.

2. BBC Radio Play Contest
Nothing again. The shortlist was announced and though I read it through word by word, four times- my name is not on it. Oh well. I liked my entry. I had adapted a short story of mine that is quite scary called And Then There Was One. Perhaps I'll find a use for it elsewhere.

3. Bessie Head Literature Awards-Poetry
Yes- I entered a poem (please refer to first paragraph of this post). I won the short story category last year, so I really should not be greedy, and I'm not really a poet, though perhaps I'd like to be. I'm happy though that a writer I truly love, who I think one day, if she is serious, may become one of the best writers coming out of Botswana has won the short story contest, so that's very nice.

I have a quotation posted next to my table where I write and it says-"You're only willing to succeed to the same degree you're willing to fail"- this is why I always try to fail spectacularly.


Helen Ginger said...

I like your theory! And your post is a good lesson for the rest of us. You'll never win if you don't enter. It sounds so simple, but it's so true. People who keep winning are actually entering.

You didn't win these three, but congratulations on all your other wins and the ones about to come your way!

Straight From Hel

Lauri said...

Helen thanks for your wishes of good luck.

Elizabeth Bradley said...

I'm with you on that bad events occur in threes theory, it seems to hold true for me anyway, especially of late. My brother has always said, (of buying lotto tickets, not entering writing contests), if you don't play, you can't win. As with everything, (sending in queries to agents and such), it's all a big numbers game. You, my dear, are IN THE GAME in a big way. I feel a HUGE win coming on in your future.

Lauri said...

Thanks Elizabeth- I'm crossing my fingers. (Yes- I do that too!)

Sue Guiney said...

I really like that last quote! I struggle with the whole competition thing. I enter one or two poetry comps a year, never any fiction ones because I don't have any short fiction to submit and don't want to write something just for the comp. So I flip between thinking comps are great and important, and thinking they're more work than than they're worth. Wish I'd make up my mind (of course, i bet if I won one I'd really start liking them :-) )

Lauri said...

I've become slightly like you Sue. Since I've stopped writing short stories for awhile, most contests will require me to write something specifically for it. When I do that a loss is even more difficult, so I try to avoid it. There are contests for novels too Sue.

To be honest, I was even a writing contest whore before I won anything. I love waiting for results. I get disappointed when results come out- even sometimes when I'm among the winners. I quickly enter another contest to re-seat myself in wait mode. (There is likely a disorder waiting somewhere in that)

Anonymous said...

Hi Lauri,

The idea of ‘non c'รจ due senza tre’ (‘there isn’t two without three’ or ‘(good and bad) things come in threes) is held by many in both the Italian and Australian cultures. It seems to be a universal notion.

Congratulations of your contest successes. As for the stories that didn’t win-put them away for a few months then revise and rewrite them and send them to be published.

Maxine Clarke said...

I have only ever entered a few writing contests in my life, but your post inspires me to enter more! And you don't win them just because you enter a lot (though of course, that increases your chances no end), you do so because you can write!

Anonymous said...

There are about 5,678 contests I didn't win, mainly because I didn't enter them. You put me to shame because you have the courage to go out there and do it. You definitely have the right attitude to succeed!

Lauri said...

Hi David- thanks for stopping by! It's good to know that , perhaps, my three things rule might hold some validity since it is universal.

Maxine- Contests do get your name out there which was evidenced by my Cape Town trip. I know a handful of South Africans (or did before CT) and yet because of contests many more knew about me. This helps if ever there comes a time when they say "We really need a Botswana writer (or Australian poet in your case) to attend this conference" then they might think of you.

Selma-The key to contests, I think, is to enter many. If I entered one and I got nothing I would be seriously bummed but since I'm always waiting for the next one, the disappointment is lessened. Also I almost never enter contests with a fee (the exception is Writers Weekly 24 hour contest which I know I'll likely never win but I live the adrenaline of it).

Tania Hershman said...

Ahem, Ms K, you didn't mention that in the Binnacle you came 114 out of 960! And yes, I don't write blog posts every time I get a rejection, every time I don't win. I lose stuff all the bloody time. Hope your lovely-thing-after-three-bad-things has come already!

Lauri said...

Tania- The Grand Prize Winner in this Year Binnacle- (Yeah! Yeah!congratulations again)- I don't know but 114 out of 960 doesn't sound any better to me. :) The lovely thing I'm waiting for is actually quite far in the distance time-wise but thanks for your encouragement. I'll let you know. And- no - I'm not planning to make announcing my loses a new trend in this blog, it was only to illustrate a point not something I would encourage anyone to do. Like that strange hobby of some writers of saving rejections..... not me- I destroy the evidence as quickly as possible.