We been discussing conventions, contests and awards, and being that this blog is basically a writers’ blog, my minds my mind went straight to writer’s conventions, contests and awards.
I have never been to a writer’s convention, at least not yet. I would love to go; one of my favorite writers held a workshop at one last year and made one of her character’s signature smoothies for her attendees, and, I am told, some adult drinks. She’s fun anyway, I can only imagine what a great time I could have had there. Maybe one year…
As for contests, (and awards), the only one I have entered was a lyric contest with a now-defunct big-time one for songwriters: The American Song Festival.(Despite the name, it was international). My sister had entered for years and when we found ourselves bored in Idaho, she talked me into reading a book she had found on how to write songs and then to try my hand. I wrote lyrics to four songs; two are pretty darned good, one is not bad, one is kind of lame, (at least, comparatively),but I copyrighted them as instructed and sent them in. Much to my sister’s shock, I was awarded a ‘Certificate of Merit’; (honorary mention, we concluded). I cannot find the nice, glossy booklet that came with bois of the winners and judges and the list of the rest of us, but if I recall, there were a good number of Dutch and British ‘honorable mentionees’. They addressed the award letter to “Mr.T. Joyce”.Since I had written the songs from a male’s perspective,I took it as an added compliment.
Nothing has been done with the songs I sent in. One day I will do a post on the realities of songwriting. If you think breaking into any other writing field is hard, you have no idea, (nor did I) , about songwriting. It is a very strange world.
[As I re-read this, it looks like I am bragging about the award, but if you look closely, you’ll see the year and know it was a long time ago with not much come from me afterward. I had not even had anything at all published,(except for organizations), for many,many years.]
Once I had tried/failed many times and got an idea of the machinations of the songwriting world, I gave up. I got married, started a family and did all mundane things one needs to do until I got a letter one day from a contest thanking me for my submissions and offering me a discount on a number of books my ‘poetry’ would be included in. Unbeknownst to me, my sister had been fooled into taking the liberty of submitting my work to a phony contest in a vanity press rip-off scam. It took me four tries by mail and finally a phone call with a threat of a copyright violation lawsuit to stop them from including my lyrics in one of their books. They finally got the message, but I could not convince the teenage sister of an in-law who, hungry for attention, spent a lot of her dad’s money on copies of the same sort of book and a convention from the same sort of company, (which is one reasons why self-publishing had such a bad reputation for so long).
I haven’t entered any other contests. One reason is that moneys for contests are better put elsewhere, (like towards grandkids). The fees are usually small, but where does it stop once I start? I’m afraid I be bitten by the gambling bug…(“Oh, just this one and the next. Oh, just one more. I know I’ll win this one!”) I nearly entered my finished play in a regional competition until I saw in the fine print that they wanted young adults in the roles and mine is a three-character play with middle-aged people. Scrap that idea.
I started this last night and as I checked my email, I found that a cousin had sent me information on a no-fee writing contest…I just may have to check it out.
Last year I found my songwriting award which had been tucked away in an unlikely spot; I had not seen it for a long time. I framed and hung it in an inconspicuous place for most people, in my bedroom hallway. But, when I am sitting in my bed reading or writing, I leave the door opened…I see the award, and I smile.
Those early awards are very important … they can help shape a writer’s development of craft and confidence.
I was fortunate to win a first place award in Deep South Writer’s Conference in 1968. It was a huge boost to my confidence and gave me enough external validation to last several lean years with rather little reinforcement.
Unfortunately,Jeff, this award and 50 cents or whatever the cost was back then got me a cup of coffee. The internal politics and customs about songwriting are intricate and almost impenetrable.And this isn’t even helpful on a writing resume.
But congrats on yours…all of yours and many more to come, I hope!
Many years ago, I got hustled by some outfit with a poetry contest who apparently included at least one poem from nearly every entrant and then published them in a huge book with 5 columns per page. I actually bought one of the books … then I realized what they were doing. Sounds a lot like the outfit your sister got involved with. Don’t recall the name of the contest, but the coordinator was Eddie Lou Cole. Later it was run by one of her sons, I think.
Yeah, pretty much and exactly what my in-law’s sister fell for.They have no shame.
when you ordered the “anthology” it sounded like a carefully selected compilation. When it arrived, with some 40 poems per page, the entire scam was quite clear.
And some people are just so hungry for attention that they keep on paying.It is a shame.
well, hopefully most of the “victims” figured it out after the first go-round.
But, yeah, there are lots of too-eager aspiring authors with undeveloped writing skills who are easily swayed by such ploys.
Congratulations on the award. I agree with many things you’ve said …. writing books/songs/poetry/scripts is very hard, because there are so many different tastes and opinions out there – what one likes the other one might not agree to at all! Like movies – some like action other ones comedy!
Also agree with the fees. I’m tempted, but as you said, i can’t afford it. It’s only small and most of the times I agree that they need to charge a little fee for administration, but $10 here and there can end up to a big amount!
And good on’ya for placing the award at such a special spot – right in your view!
Thank you,Iris. Yes,differing tastes I guess are always a problem when it comes to competitions, but I good judge , a real professional, would look beyond their own and see ‘style’. As far as songwriting goes though…it is a different world, one with its own set of rules.I will try to remember to talk about it on an ‘open’ eek,or one where I think the topic can scoot in!
And yep, yours is exactly what my attitude is:$10. here,$10. there…nope, wish I could, but I can’t! Take care.
Congrats on the songwriting award. That’s so cool.
Thanks , Jillian…but as I said, with songwriting, a miss is as good as a mile.Unless you got the top prize of a contract, the rest was for bragging rights, only.
My sister was very conflicted, by the way; she had entered for years with nada going her way. Poor Sis.
I’m impressed with the songwriting award. I’ve saved my certificates from the handful of writing contests I’ve entered and finaled in, but if you ask me to locate them, that’s going to be a bit of a challenge. Still, it’s those small “Way to go” awards that help us keep on keepin’ on. Congratulations!
Thanks,Micki, but as I said, it’s bragging right-worth only …and then only to people who don’t know the ways of the songwriting world.Anyone out there knows it isn’t worth the paper its printed on, career-wise. But if nothing else, it was a ‘one-up’ on my sister, whose shadow I had always lived under.