Writing Competitions (and whether they have any value to your life as a writer)

I recently entered the Kansas Writer’s Association’s 2009 Creative Writing Competition, one that I had had some success with in the past.  For the most part, my entries had been fifteen year old + poems of some note and/or interest and one or two short stories, largely undeveloped.

This year I entered the first chapter of my largely transgressive novel “Weekend Getaways, or Adventures in Contract Killing.”  I didn’t expect it to win, place, or show, nor even get an honorable mention.  What I found disquieting were the comments included in the critique.  It seems that experimental or non-traditional forms don’t set too well with staid minds who are used to generic writing and commercialized forms.  This is to be expected.

A Writing organization of this ilk in this part of the country prefers their writers, it would seem to be more “traditional”.  After thirty plus years of writing and having really only recently found my “voice”, the word traditional does not have a place in my fingertips as they hit the keyboard.

“Too internal to be engaging”.  I wonder if the judge has read Notes from Underground or As I Lay Dying.

Some of this colorful but novel needs action”.  Madame Bovary contains some fairly elaborate detail and does not bring to mind the word “action”.

This is merely sniveling on my part.  I consider the piece (now in its fourth draft) to be some of the finest work I have put on paper and my response is more of a knee-jerk reaction.  There are other literary contests out there.  And more importantly, there are individual groups, book clubs, writers critiquing groups, etc, where the development of a story can be more substantial.

I missed going to the banquet.  The dinner would have been worthwhile as well as the camaraderie.  AND I will continue to enter more KWA contests.  AND I will enter this particular piece of fiction somewhere else where it will be accepted.  There IS an audience, a readership, someone out there who will value the work.


  1. lawrenceez said,

    December 23, 2009 at 4:35 am

    Hi, I think you have to write in the style you believe in. Best wishes


  2. tikiman1962 said,

    December 24, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    Believing in your style and believing in yourself. There is such a thing as poor writing; I am aware of that. There is another thing where someone does not appreciate/read your style or relate to your message. That divests itself of any valid commentary regarding quality as the two minds don’t seem to meet in the middle.
    Thanks for the comment.


  3. jenniferneri said,

    January 10, 2010 at 10:30 am

    I have received so many types of critique, some good some bad. You take what you need to learn and move on. If you know a piece is good, worhty of publication, then you need to spend the time to find it a home. Something I am not very patient at, and keep telling myself I must spend more time selling my stuff. Yet, I really don;t want to waste time looking up journals etc when I could be writing. I do not help myself in this matter.

    Good luck with it! Patience and endourance are a writer’s best traits.


  4. tikiman1962 said,

    January 10, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    I have learned that writing in a vaccum leads to an empty space. Whether it is for posterity or for money, for wealth and fame or for ego, there has to be an end to all the hard work that goes into the effort. Some percentage of time must be put toward publication in a journal; book publication; something where the effort results in a finished product for the “world” to know about.


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