Friday, August 29, 2008

Winners...But Not You

For all of you waiting with bated breath, here's the results of the latest Narrative Magazine contest (I know; it stings):


First Place ($3,000) Gina Ochsner On Principle
Second Place ($1,750) Heather Brittain Bergstrom Celilo Falls
Third Place ($1,000) Holly Wilson Night Glow

Ten Finalists ($125 each)
Alethea Black Mistake
Abby Frucht But You’re Not
Lisa Fugard The Ghost of Anton Viljoen
Ed Gray Freedom Cross
Barb Johnson Turn It Up
Twister Marquiss Spectator Sports
David Torrey Peters The Dressing Room
Marc Petersen Shopping in the Middle of the Night
Debra Spark 46
Terese Svoboda Recon

But oh so luckily, there's another contest, another way for these people to take your money:

Also announcing:
The 2008 Fall Fiction Contest, with a
First Prize of $3,000, a Second Prize of $1,500, a Third Prize of $750,
and ten finalists receiving $100 each.
Open to all writers, from August 28 to November 30, 2008.
All entries will be considered for publication.


Renee Thompson -- said...

know i'm in the minority here, but i'm actually fond of contests and have done reasonably well in them, placing 2nd in a writer's digest contest (judged by gina ochsner, by the way) and pocketing $500 in cash and $100 in books on a $15 entry fee. (i'm a nobody and have placed in that contest three times now, so it's obviously legit.) also rec'd an honorable mention in glimmer train's june fiction open -- no dough, but a nice addition to the resume. just use common sense when entering contests, and do your homework first. if you've got talent, you just might get lucky -- but you've got to enter to win.

Anonymous said...

Did Jacob Appel not enter this time? Just wondering.

John said...

Renee, I'm a little curious, because of the list of publications and awards you have on your site, all but two are prizes. While you say that prizes are good for the resume -- possibly so, though the sites on contests stress that only a very few contests are actually prestigious enough to influence an agent or editor -- I'm wondering if the skill set that wins contests may be different from the skill set that gets published.

In that case, I'm wondering if the same number of pub creds may be somewhat better than prizes won. Especially if, as the sites on coontests suggest, contests vary widely in standards (blind judging, for instance, or qualifications of judges). I'd be interested to hear opinions on this.

One thing I note is what appears to be an unexamined assumption in the literary world, that winning a contest somehow automatically advances your career. Like it or not, there's a certain amount of free-floating resentment on this site (just look at the post for this thread) against those who win contests -- and, even though W,R claims she doesn't tell people what to do, a certain amount of badmouthing of the Narrative contests.

Wouldn't it be better, again, to point to the sites that dispassionately discuss contests and their pros and cons?

Writer, Rejected said...

Dude: Resentment because those people won and we didn' get it? Man, you got to read things a little more carefully, as you tend to misinterpret in order to have something against which to argue. But really, what fun is there in constantly posting about how you have missed the point? Again? Not much.

John said...

"But oh so luckily, there's another contest, another way for these people to take your money". Sounds pretty resentful to me -- and I don't see much humor there. If you're trying to say I'm missing a point of lightheartedness here -- in other words, tee hee, can't you take a joke? All I can say is I learned that sort of thing, so to speak, at my mother's knee.

Again, if I were to try to parse this site at a distance, I'd say it's a very good example of the myth among amateurs that the way to get a literary career is (1) win a contest, and then (2) use the prize to get an agent. What I'm seeing is, in what I'm increasingly convinced is your case, a resentment that, even having won a prize, the world hasn't come to your door. So we get frowny-face next to your insistence that you've won awards. Quite possibly you have, and life isn't working out as you wish. It's interesting that many of your commenters or anonymous correspondents make the same complaint.

One difficulty there is your anonymity. People on the web can claim to be anything, especially if you can't check on them via Google. So you say (1) you don't have an agent, but (2) a studio has optioned your short story. Normally it takes an agent to get that deal. Maybe you're one in a zillion, but if you're anonymous on the web, people are entitled to normal skepticism.

Just sayin'.

writer, rejected said...

Tediosity! I am many things, but not a dissembler. Besides, it's an inane accusation, since I am posting all my rejections and some of my finalist/runner-up awards. Why would I lie? Also, check into your logic, friend. Just because I do not have an agent now doesn't mean I have never had one (or several). And besides, I actually do technically still have the agent who brokered the movie deal: we just don't speak very often. So, anyway, it's my b-day and I have to go play with my Kindle. Much nicer than defending myself against you. BTW, why don't you take all the suggestions you stuff in my box and use them to improve your blog? That would be a constructive use of your time and myriad ideas for me! Just sayin', too.

john's so annoying said...


You don't like it here, get the fuck out. How's that for logic?

John said...

"Why would I lie?" Narcissism.

Anonymous said...

Hey, W,R -- Happy Birthday. And don't forget to tell us about the Kindle.

Renee Thompson -- said...

okay, first things first. happy birthday, w,r! it's a glorious day and i hope you're eating cake (and lots of it).

john, in response to your question, i will say i don't think the skill set that wins contests is different from the skill set that gets published. both take perseverance and talent. just ask aryn kyle, whose short story "allegiance" -- a 2007 bass winner -- took almost 2 years to sell.

as it happens, i don't write many short stories, concentrating instead on novels. i have an agent, and she has recently begun pitching my second novel. also had an agent for first novel, but she left publishing to pursue a career in finance. i think anything we can do to influence an agent's perception of us -- and which highlights our focus and determination -- only helps us in landing one.

so maybe it depends on our goals. mine is to sell books, and for that i needed an agent. i doubt my contest placements hurt, and maybe they helped. but the point is, i'm doing what works for me, and what makes me happy. much like you, i suppose.

Minnie Mouse said...

Happy Birthday, W,R!

Writer, Rejected said...

Narcissism is not my diagnosis, friend.
Perhaps you project?

Steve said...

what kind of narcissist refuses to admit his/her identity?

Writer, Rejected said...

Right? I'm nothing fancy as that. Just a plain garden variety ass. :-)

Lilah said...

WR, thanks to your counsel, it stings surprisingly little. And happy birthday!

Re: Narrative, I loved this part of my form letter (which, incedentally, I got the evening after I wrote you)...

"The quarter- and semi-final rounds of reading involved particularly difficult choices for closely contested winner and finalist positions, and in many cases the margin between a story than was awarded and one that wasn't was very narrow."

Clever how they didn't specifically say I was PART of those rounds, just that like, you know, there were some close calls!