I recently submitted a few of my pieces (two short stories and a poem) for some writing contests. I submitted them with the reminder to myself that 1) I’m not the only writer in the world, and 2) there’s a high likelihood that I won’t even place, because see #1. I should tell you that I don’t doubt my talent for a second; gone are the days when I would compare my writing to every one else wielding a pen and/or a laptop and wonder why I couldn’t evoke emotions like Writer A or describe scenes like Writer B. For years and years now, I have wielded my pen/dusty laptop quite confidently, as every writer should. But it was also important to provide myself those two reminders because This Square Peg definitely likes being real and honest with herself. This foils disappointment and eternal irritation with judges who clearly don’t have eyes.

All that said, I received an email yesterday that with 375 entries submitted, I wasn’t selected as a finalist for the poetry contest. And how did I react, being that I gave myself those two reminders? I glared at the email and muttered to myself that I would never participate in that contest again. (It was my second time sending something to this literary festival.) And, yes, I wondered if the judges had eyes. And yes, I almost threw my phone on the ground. Of course, some time later, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at


myself–because as a writer, moments like that par for the course. They just are. Writing is entirely subjective. Person 1 may think my collected words were borne from the divinest of clouds. Person 2 may wonder why I didn’t choose basket weaving instead of writing as something to fall in love with. (And may wonder why I insist on ending sentences with prepositions.) When you think about the variety of writers and styles and then we all enter contests with each other? Kind of incredible.

However: for a few moments, more than seconds, I entertained my anger and my irritation. Yeah, I’m a writer, and I’m mostly a realist, but I’m also quite human. So there you go. But eventually, I bounced back. I told myself to cool it, to seriously stop flirting with throwing my phone whenever something doesn’t go my way, and to remember that I write for one person only: myself. When I’m happy and content with the work I produce, all is well. The icing is when my readers feel the same way. No contest needs to tell me any of those things.

But if those short stories don’t do well…kidding, kidding.

Tell me: in life, how do you deal with disappointment?


4 Replies to “Contests.”

  1. Your sense of humour though! @ “Basket weaving” XD

    I like your confidence with regards to your talent, I imagine that it’s based on a solid foundation of self-validation. Indeed, writing is subjective, we all see differently.

    You are right, underneath our steely resolve of self- assuredness, we are human. Disappointment stings somewhat.

    Contests make me a little nervous because I am not always sure how I will react to disappointment. I can’t count how many giveaway contents that I’ve given the side-eye to, not even bothering to put in an entry. Lol

    One particular quote nudges me gently- “There is freedom waiting for you, On the breezes of the sky, And you ask “What if I fall?” Oh but my darling, What if you fly?”

    PS: Those judges need to invest in a new set of eyes, perhaps a digital model.

    1. LOL: I’d be a terrible basket-weaver, so I choose writing. 🙂 Self-validation is the way to go! After spending years vacillating over whether I was a “good writer”, I finally told myself to quit it. I’ve been writing since I was 8. “Good” means nothing when you’re just doing what you love. But disappointment does come, and it does sting, because of, as we agree, the whole subjective aspect. it helps to eat some carbs and keep it moving. 😉 And I, too, largely ignore anything contest-related. Which is why I decided to step out of my comfort zone and take part in these things. I constantly force myself to tiptoe out of these comfort zones…;)

      I love that quote. I’ve seen it before and it makes me want to do all the things I believe will make me “fall” if I try. Food for thought, indeed.

      Those judges! *side eye* LOL

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