I suppose it wouldn’t really be a true writers journey if I just posted the failed attempts without the emotion that comes with that failure.
I swore at the beginning of the year I was going to pack in the competition thing. While they are great for lesson learning, skill building and thick skin development – they defo have their down sides.
I invest probably far too much time in the entries and it takes away from my real writing. Plus it’s supremely shit for my nerves and even shitter for the confidence. But, it’s also super unrealistic and very all the eggs in all the unlikely baskets pinned up on the far too many hopes board for me to handle in a rational/non nervous-nelly manner.
Truthfully – the disappointment can be a suck-fest – especially as you enter more, grow more and begin to believe your work isn’t half bad. It’s even worse if your initial feedback is nothing but praise and sunshine and wow’s and you’ve got a chance – vibes. When you receive that level of boosty positivity it’s pretty deflating to not place in a pool of just over a hundred.
We attended an author talk recently with a VERY successful young author who has gone gang busters with his first book. He’s won a tonne of prestigious awards and ironically was one of the judges involved in the competition most of our writers group entered.
He made a point of mentioning he entered this same comp many times and not once did his work place. He actually sounded a bit pissed about it. There was a bit of a “Fck you, look at me now” tone. It was funny, but also a relief. If people at the top can’t crack the winning formula, maybe I’m not such a dull storytelling dummy after all.
Different judges, different styles, different academic levels, different likes/interests, different trends, and all the miscellaneous and mysterious criteria to succeed – can be dissected, hypothesised and conspirisised (totally a word) – but I think I’d rather not know and let it go. Try again, or move on.
RANDOM OVERTHINKING INTERMISSION (BRACE YOURSELF…)
After I entered and bombed at a major comp last year I was invited (as were all the other entrants I presume) to be a possible judge for this year. I scoffed (super appreciatively) when I saw it. Was this a joke? How can a random – who only very recently returned to the writing journey she abandoned nearly two decades ago as an unpublished, unskilled, uneducated dabbler – be considered for an invite, let alone judge another’s work? Though I doubt I’d have been accepted, it left me pondering things a little.
I may have broken my brain a bit.. more.
No point being bitter or bogged down on bombing out and everything is a learning curve, no matter how tricky and awkward it can be to swallow.
BUT – feedback would be massively helpful. I’d pay an entry fee if it meant you would get some tips on why you bombed, or even the thing that all unsuccessful entrants want to hear – it was good – there were just so many excellent entries this year. Shit, I’d even settle for your story was okay, but others were better.
Then there’s the possibility that mine was simply just crap – which though I’d probably melt into a sad old sorry puddle of goo, I I think I’d be fine hearing.
Here is my most recent bomber. Please forgive the formatting, WordPress don’t seem to care for indents etc and it’s too long for me to fiddle with.
The walls are higher. It looks like a prison. A medieval monstrosity smack-bang in the middle of suburbia. Nerd’s wet dream. The full moon shines on broken glass cemented into the limestone. Old school. Clever. They do that now, the smart ones. Source ideas from the past. Some work. Most fail. Great minds are scarce and the redevelopment shows. Everything returned to a primitive state soon after the fall. All except the safe zones and this safe zone stands like the same privileged, polished turd it always was. Now it’s just a fortified one. Synthetic, stifling, everything we ran from and here we are running back. Willingly. It was a hard pill for my son to swallow.
“You hate Hiilville.”
“We need supplies and information.”
“You said safe zones are traps,” Card pressed and any other time I would have praised his bullshit-sniffing skills. Only sixteen and keener street-smarts than a middle-aged man on the run.
“If we’re going to Dad, we’ve gotta make a move.”
“Yeah, but now? We’re safe here. We should at least wait until spring.”
“Love, we’re too vulnerable. Beasts are heading inland and Brae is getting bigger and louder. Just her gurgling echoes outside the cave. I nearly smothered her when a herd passed last week.”
“What’s to say that won’t happen out there?”
“Once we reach the coast, there’ll be less of them. Easier to kill.”
“There’s a thousand kilometres between us and Dad and we don’t even know how far south the beasts got.” Card gnaws his pinky. He never used to bite his nails. It started the day we saw the parachutes. Hundreds of pods falling from the sky, beasts clawing their way out and slaughtering anything living. The army took one down and hacked into its collar chip. GMO monsters designed by whoever caused the fall – created to locate resources for some sort of invasion. Now their mess roams free defaulting to hunt and breed. Card spits a bit of nail.
“That’s what we’ll suss out at Hiilville. In and out, I promise. It’ll be good for you. Sleep in an actual bed, have a warm wash. We’re all a bit on the nose.”
“I don’t remember what a real bed feels like. It’ll be a tease.”
“You won’t be saying that after a full night’s sleep on one. Cardie, it’ll be okay,” I lie, lovingly. He skulks like a typical teen. I peck his cheek and tousle his hair.
“I’ll go if you’ll stop petting me like a pug.”
“Deal,” I agree. A few years ago I would have followed up with a jab at the knee, or the weak spot on his neck, but we can’t risk it. I wonder if his old tickle places still exist, or if I’ll ever hear him laugh again. The beasts don’t give a shit about family moments, or joy, or anything other than gorging flesh. Card was right to worry. We were safe in the cave. Plenty water, plenty hunting. But we had to go. Back to their father. Back to my husband. Home…
To be continued in Apocalyptic Campfire Comics