So I recently won a short story contest on Words and Brushes. Yay for me! But seriously -- I'm happy, it's nice to be validated, to be told something you've created stood out amidst things other people have created.
But here's the weird thing that I keep coming up against: that same story could be read by someone else and their reaction could be, "Meh, it's okay."
I know authors who are truly beautiful writers, who are experts at what they write, but I don't respond to it because I don't click with the genre, or their style is not my cup of tea. And yet I know they are good writers. I've seen New York Times best sellers that have made me go, "Really?!"
So what does that mean? Where does that leave those of us who are compelled to create? Appreciation, likability, these things are fickle and personal, so what does winning a contest mean other than that particular reader/editor/judge was moved/responded to what I wrote? Is it really a trustworthy acknowledgment that what I wrote was exceptional any more than a rejection means the what I wrote was trash?
I can be a dangerous train of thought to ride as it can quickly lead to a disheartening case of whybother-itis. Or, I suppose, it could just as easily lead to a sense of wellthenit'sallgood-ness. If it's all that subjective, then just write your best, submit your best and know that neither acceptance nor rejection are any real commentary on your work.
So it would suggest that neither one should be taken too much to heart. But as all artists know, that's easier said than done. To create is to share a part of your spirit, your truth; it is toiling at something to get it just right, to say just what you mean, create the perfect moment.
There's a quote (attribution is argued) that goes something like:
" Writing is easy. You just open a vein and bleed."
And since it often feels that way, winning praise, acknowledgment, admiration can be hard to ignore -- and so can rejection.
Not sure where that leaves me (us). But there it is. It feels good to say "award-winning" or "bestselling" or "five-star" -- but if I’m to be truly honest, I'm not sure what it really means overall. How do we know -- for sure?
One Man's Trash is another Man's Treasure (and vice versa).
It can be liberating or dispiriting -- which one, perhaps, reveals more about the person than the situation.
So for what it's worth, I won a contest. I've also been rejected by over a dozen others. Make of that what you will.
But whether you find it to be your trash, or your treasure, you can read the winning entry at wordsandbrushes.com