Hubris Takes a Dive

It’s been seven weeks since I sent it in.  It was a big risk: submitting a short story, asking to be judged, hoping to win, certain I wouldn’t.  Still, like the New York Lottery guy says, “Hey, you never know.”

Five hundred people just like me send in their entries.  Well, OK, not all of them are just like me.  Some are actually professional writers.  Some are really good writers.  Others are probably not so good.  Five hundred people, after all.  That’s a lot of potential.  Potential to be just about anything.

But, hey, you never know, right? So I write the piece, give it a good bit of spit and polish, and raise as much shine in the words as I can.  And I send it in.  Not five minus after it’s gone, Doubt speaks up.  Oh, what have I done?  Who do I think I am, anyway?  Actually win a writing contest?  Oh, silly me.

It’s been seven weeks since I sent it in.  I’ve reread it several times in those seven weeks.  Somewhere around Week Five, I begin to think that the piece could maybe…well, geez, I mean… it could actually win.  Hey, you never know.

Halfway through Week Six, I’m convinced.  Hubris has jumped into the ring, thrown a mighty left hook, sent Doubt to the deck in a knock-out, and is dancing around like a victorious prize fighter, arms in the air, shouting, I’m going to win this thing.

Now, I never win anything, especially not a writing contest (just ask anyone who knows me – I’m the creative version of the Bridesmaid).  But this time, this time I’m going to win.  I’ve already got the Grand Prize of $300 (they never said the prize was Ginormous, just Grand) spent.

Every day, I check my e-mail, looking for that long-awaited announcement of the winners.  Yesterday it came.

First Place: Somebody Else  (Well, there were five hundred entries, after all.  Second Place is still pretty good.)

Second Place: Another Somebody Else (Huh.)

Third Place: Yet Another (you know)

Honorable Mention:  20 Other…

Well, damn.

But wait!  Down at the bottom of the list, I find my name.  Out of the five hundred entries, mine has been selected to win a Door Prize.  Hooray!

OK, perhaps I should mention that my entry was selected in a random drawing of all the non-winning entries.  Mine, and 62 others.

Yeah.

Sigh.

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20 Responses to Hubris Takes a Dive

  1. Bruised ego, huh? I think you’re a good writer- just reread this post! But you know what? Good for you for trying, for putting yourself out there. There’s always a next time…

    • PattiKen says:

      Thanks, Mary. Nah, this was less about a bruised ego and more about allowing hubris to sneak in and hold sway. I know better.

      But thank you for your kind words and support . They mean a lot.

  2. lceel says:

    You are an excellent writer – so the winners must have written some REALLY AMAZING SHIT – or the fix was in. You wuz jobbed! Or – the judges are incompetent. Yeah. That’s the ticket. They don’t know nuthin’!

    You truly are an excellent writer – no matter what your inspiration or the source of your material – you have to realize that your audience doesn’t know whether there’s a ‘life source’ for your writing or not. It’s taken at face value – as presented. And assessed as such. And I can honestly say I have never read anything of yours I didn’t admire.

    • PattiKen says:

      OK, after reading your response the others, I am worried that it may have sounded like I was fishing for compliments. That wasn’t my intent. This was more about my own hubris. (Read my response to Mary above.) I just love it when Reality joins the party and delivers a much-needed dope-slap.

      Thanks for your wonderful words, though. I love that you think and say them.

  3. Titanium says:

    Writing contest wins are almost as subjective as body building competitions. The more you know about the process of either, the less attached you are to the win or loss on that particular stage. What matters is your ability to turn in your absolute best piece of work and have the courage to step into the spotlight. You did, and I am thrilled that you took that step.

    Also, Lou said it far more eloquently than I just did- and I absolutely concur with his summation.

    • PattiKen says:

      Thanks, Ti. Your support means the world. I know I can always count on you.

      And to be honest, I have become rather attached to my status of “Bridesmaid.” (And you get to have lots of really ugly interesting dresses, right?) It really is about the writing and improving, and giving it all the best I can.

  4. Mxwll says:

    The work is its own reward. Recognition of peers is nice, but ultimately we compete against ourselves. You have skill and talent, as I see many here attest to with your every entry. Write for the joy, the reflection, the exploration of your own mind and push your boundries. Have fun and enjoy the occasional random victories.

    • PattiKen says:

      Would that there were the occasional win… Still, I agree, the real satisfaction is in the doing.

      And on that note, where’s yours? Wanna do a guest post?

  5. Oh, this is so familiar. I remember an agent congratulating me on the number of rejections I had accrued. Yes, congratulating. It means you’re taking the risk and putting it out there!!! Bravo.

    • PattiKen says:

      It’s probably like sales of any kind – a numbers game. You need to pass through a certain number of rejections to get to acceptance. I’ve never been so brave as to send something out to be considered for publication. I think I need to toughen up my hide before I begin building my own collection of rejections.

      Thanks for the “Bravo” though. I’ll take it anyway and apply it directly to the hide I’m working on toughening. Kind of like Bag Balm. 😉

  6. mairmusic says:

    Love your description! Who judges these things anyway!?! If it was me you’d win.

    • PattiKen says:

      Thank you, Marilynn. I’m viewing it as learning experience. Maybe with enough practice, my work will be judged worthy no matter who does the judging. I just hope I live long enough. 😉

  7. souldipper says:

    Good for you, Patti. How will you ever know if you don’t throw your hat in the ring.

    • PattiKen says:

      That’s true. I pretty much knew already, but hope springs eternal, no? And one thing I learned about myself a long time ago: I’m a ladder climber. Competition makes me strive toward the top, and lack of it leaves me wallowing in the dust of complacency at the bottom. And no one ever improved from complacency. So. I keep that hat in motion, and hopefully become a better writer in the process.

  8. Jamie Dedes says:

    Patti, you’re good. There’s just a ton of competition. Keep trying. One thing: check on the judges. Look for contests where the judges write stuff that like yours. Just a suggest: for whatever it might be worth.

    I’m going to have to come back another day so that I can read that long four-part piece on your other sight. Looks good to me.

    You get my first prize. Sorry it’s only a virtual “hug”!!!! 🙂

  9. JeffScape says:

    Hubris? Bah… keep trying. Everyone starts somewhere. I know people who have more rejection letters than they’ve had bowel movements. Persistence pays off in the art industries, and some editors have a funny habit of keeping eyes on those who keep submitting.

    Are you good enough to make a living as a (creative) writer? Maybe, maybe not, but you’re on the right track. You’re certainly good enough to be published (and there is a difference). A year ago I wouldn’t have said that. There’s been massive improvement since then.

    Keep trying.

  10. Baino says:

    Ah missed this one. Jeff mentioned it to me. I’m about to submit to two competitions, then again, I have a friend who said to me “Now I can call myself a real writer, I’ve had my first rejection letter” she was quite proud of the fact. If at first you dont succeed, keep sucking huh?

    • PattiKen says:

      There are about a millions clichés appropriate to this, but I guess I’ll just stick with “Hey, you never know.” Submitting to a competition is like a roller coaster ride: you start at the bottom, ride up, up, up, feeling the rush, and then finish at the bottom again. It’s still fun, and likely a lot cheaper than a ticket for the coaster.

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