Writers, you know how it goes. You submit to journals and contests, learning to ignore the rejections as they pile up. With a Zen-like mastery, you learn to frame rejection as a positive thing. If you weren’t submitting, you wouldn’t be rejected. And if you weren’t writing, you wouldn’t be submitting. And if you weren’t writing, you wouldn’t be a writer. Hence, using this somewhat reductionist — and albeit recursive — logic, rejection is a good thing. It means you’re a writer.
And every now and then, something like this arrives in your in-box, and the affirmation feels very, very good.
Soldier on, dear ones!
For those in the northern hemisphere, summer is just around the corner. Many of us slow down a little during the summer–school’s out, the days are longer and lazier, and you may find the opportunity to sneak in a little more creative time. So, while enjoying yourself, you may be able to keep one eye on the prize–the literary prize.
Whether you’re writing something new or dusting off a piece that’s already gone out a few times, it’s always fun–and good for you–to have a few contest submissions in the offing. Unlike unsolicited submissions to a publication, entering a contest requires you to meet a specific deadline–usually with the assurance that you’ll hear back by a specific time frame as well.
I much enjoy the challenge of meeting a specific word count requirement; for example, culling 1,542 words from my latest short story in order to enter the 2008 Iowa Review Award back in March (which–and I know this will be as shocking to you as it was to me–I did NOT actually win).
Poets & Writers Magazine website is my favorite contest listing source. From the P&W site: “Feeling overwhelmed by the number of writing contests? Having trouble deciding which ones to enter? Are deadlines passing you by? Poets & Writers Magazine offers a unique service to its readers. Every two months it publishes a listing of the competitions for grants and contest awards whose deadlines will come due soon. This editorial feature lists only competitions that will benefit a writer’s career and only those (with a few exceptions for prizes of stature) that offer $1,000 or more.” The P&W website also offers a searchable database so that you can look for deadlines relevant to your genre.
You might also check out About.com for short fiction contests listed by month.
If you have a favored resource to share, please do. Happy writing, and good luck!