Did you ever get that grade on a test where you studied so hard for the test and you get it back and all you can think is, “What the…?!” Or perhaps you got the A even though you weren’t expecting it? Naturally, you had to discuss it with everyone at the lunch table to see who else had Mrs. So-and-so and what grade they got on her test. What if it was a paper instead of a test and all you saw was a big, red D? “Did the teacher even read my paper? I worked so hard on this stupid flippin’ paper. Who cares about Hawthorne
and his dumb ol’ scarlet letter!”
Get a group of writer’s together and it’s possible this same conversation plays out when it comes to writing contest results. The major difference being 1) we’re adults and 2) we’ve likely got adult beverages at our lunch table gripeathon.
I admit. I like contests and for the most part, I’ve gotten really good feedback. Enough to help me fix my manuscript to final in other contests. But then you get that one. The one where the judge seems to ignore half your sentences and nit-picks every other detail which has you screaming out loud, “Did you not read the paragraph before?!” (By the way, don’t do this when the hubby is home. This scares them because they’re trying to figure out which paragraph they should have read and on what piece of paper.) While I’ve had a few comments where I didn’t necessarily agree, there was always something for me to consider
or clarify. Except for that one. I couldn’t find a single positive comment. Had it been my first contest entry, I would have said, “Screw this!” and abandoned all hope of writing for
publication, but I had finaled with the same entry and my other judges in that contest seemed to like it well enough. So I did what any sane person would do and wrote to the contest coordinator and told her that her judges sucked!
Not really. I mean, I did write to the contest coordinator, but I was a little more diplomatic in expressing my opinion. The coordinator had included the judging matrix of all the scores and having been a former statistics teacher, I analyzed the distribution of the scores. Turns out my meanie judge wasn’t the meanest, but she was in the bottom three of 91 judges and her comments suggested that she wasn’t widely read in the current YA market. She was like that insane teacher who hates kids and fails the whole class.
Regardless, I’m still ready to take my chances with having strangers take a whack at my manuscript. (Or at least the first 25 pages.) Who knows? Maybe they’ll even
Tell me, what has been your worst (or best) contest experience?