Tag Archives: winning

Writing: Friends of Merril Contest Finalist

writing, writing contests, short fiction, stories, competitions, horror, SF

To write or not to write; there is no question. Creative Commons: http://freshink.blogspot.com/2010_11_01_archive.html

I don’t often enter contests. There are several reasons: most writing contests cost $20-$30 for an entry and you only have one to three chances of being chosen. The odds of submitting to a magazine are much better. However, I will once in a while enter a contest if the price is right and if it’s for a good cause. I also understand that many magazines do a yearly contest, which fuels their production budget and that it’s a necessity but I certainly couldn’t afford to enter every contest to every magazine. I have in recent years entered and placed in the Rannu Fund poetry and short story competition. It’s smaller and Canadian but takes submissions in English from anywhere in the world. And the price isn’t high.

Likewise the Friends of Merril decided to hold an inaugural short story contest. The Merril is a branch of the Toronto public library and the foremost collection of speculative fiction and poetry in North America. There are over 72,000 works stored there and it continues to grow. Judith Merril, an American by birth, was one of the grand dames of science fiction. She was more background and while she wrote and published in the early years, she was also an editor.

So I thought, why not, the contest is cheap ($5), it’s the first time and supports a good cause, it’s Canadian, and I write. All good reasons. I entered one story though I think you can enter up to three and then forgot about it. Yesterday I was informed that I’d made the shortlist. Of the 102 entries they received for the first year of the contest, nine finalists are chosen. I cannot say which title is mine but here is the list:

Climbing Boys

Muffy and the Belfry

My Profit On’t Is

Rikidōzan and the San Diego Swerve Job

The Emmet

The Mobius Garden

The Ties That Bind

Weathermakers

Your First Real Rocket Ship

Even if I don’t win, it’s nice to know a story or poem are rising to the top. I’ll find out in the next month. But as I’ve found with honorable mentions or even winning, there are no guarantee of getting the piece published so it can work in reverse as well. The Rannu Fund competition has just opened to entries from March 1 to May 31. I’ll probably enter this again as I’ve been shortlisted, won second place and been judge. Now it’s time to win first place, should the gods and the judges (who might be the same) so decide. 😀

And I have finally worked out the kinks and finished the story “Nightingale.” Now I need to shunt that into the feeding tubes of the submission engine and see what comes out.

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Winning, Losing and Just Being One of the Gang

There has been a lot of talk lately about sports for kids and how their parents take a walk on the crazy side in berating their children, other children, referees and coaches to get their child to win. They sometimes physically attack the coaches and referees as well. It doesn’t verge on abuse; it is abusive.

One of the answers happening in some leagues and schools is to have sports without keeping score. They have decided there are no winners or losers, just players. This is another example of the overly coddled era we live in, where playground slides are lowered because kids might tumble, safety measures are enforced and basically everyone walks around padded from the real world.

While it may be a good thing in some instances, especially with children, to lower the competitive level, I don’t believe it should ever be eliminated completely. Yet, there are two sides to this coin. One extreme was the example above of people pressuring their children to win win win, or Amy Chua’s (the tiger mom) father saying second place wasn’t good enough and a disgrace. Winning definitely can give a person a sense of confidence and yet, not everyone wins. But one can try to do the best possible. Winning is what the Olympics are all about and most sports. There are the best in their field. But to obsess over it can be an imbalance in life and psyche. I remember playing on a dart team where we were the division that wasn’t very good. We played, we wanted to win but we didn’t beat ourselves up if we didn’t. Yet there was one guy on one team who was so adamant about winning that he was a giant jerk. Even his team apologized for his rude behavior. The Tonya Harding figure skating debacle where her ex-husband and goons tried to break Nancy Kerrigan’s leg is an example of how extreme that need to win can get. The movie Black Swan is an example of the fears of not being the best. Extreme obsessive competing can drive you crazy.


Creative commons: From Scrape TV News http://scrapetv.com/

The other side is that there always must be someone who losses. Sometimes a person doesn’t try hard enough and sometimes they just cannot beat the others no matter how hard they try. This is the state of the world, whether in sports or jobs or almost any other aspect. One person wins, others lose. It doesn’t mean they’re failures; they’re just not the best in that category. I’ve lost some things, I’ve won some things. Sometimes I didn’t care enough and sometimes I did but my skills weren’t there. That is life and to remove the winning and losing from a child’s rearing only makes them unprepared to hand the ups and downs of the real world.

But there are ways to balance these sides. Make sure a person is encouraged in what they do and encouraged to do well. Don’t berate them if they fail, if they’re trying. Help them learn to cope with not being the one winner and keep the winners from becoming terrible blowhards. As a shy child I was often picked last for all sports in school. I didn’t have a chance to shine, already being singled out as “different.” I became self-conscious. If the teacher had divvied up teams instead of having the same kids do it all the time, that would have helped level the playing field. It’s okay to lose but it’s not okay to be a loser and cliquey behavior, bullying and mob mentality happen in children with fewer social nicety filters.

Even being one of those who did not excel in sports as a child, I would not eliminate sports where you compete against someone. As a writer, I have faced a lot of rejection, but it makes me try harder, and become better. That too is competition and I live with it. We need to be more accepting of people being at different levels and abilities, yet still encourage people to compete and excel but in a healthy and balanced way, with few emotional scars.

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