To my memory, I did something over the weekend that I have never done before.* I submitted one of my short stories to a contest. I even paid a fee ($10) to enter. Paying a fee for a submission was something I swore I would never do. (Of course I also never imagined myself entering and running marathons, so I guess there are no absolutes.)
The story I submitted is “A Tree Falls in the Forest,” which is one of my One-Match Fire pieces. I’ve read and re-read this story many times (is that tautological phrasing?), and I’m really satisfied with it. I’m more than satisfied; I’m pleased with it. I think it may be the best realized story I’ve ever written (but I’m trying to avoid making absolute statements any longer).
I’ve read some of the stories that the magazine has published, and I think my story seems to fit, though I never feel sure about these judgments. I feel so confident about my story, though, that I hesitated only a few days before submitting.
I know some writers enter every contest they can find. From what I can tell, many use their wins as marketing tools, to increase their brand and suchlike. (“Suchlike” is an actual word. Look it up!) That’s fine for them. And I suppose winning this or that famous (or not-so-famous) writing contest may increase the writer’s profile among readers and increase the writer’s marketability among publishers. I’ve never been concerned with my “brand” as a writer. I’m too shy to market myself. I am grateful a) that my story is as well done as I can make it, and b) that my story gets published at all. It’s much like my approach to running in organized races. I’m not out to win a medal for my age group. (I’ve only done that twice, and both were by default.) I’m satisfied to run the race as well as I can and to collect the finisher’s medal (that everyone gets who staggers across the line).
Still, along with the prize money for this literary contest, there is also a bronze medal. I could be pleased having that sitting on my desk.
*The more I’ve reflected about this the more I seem to recall having submitted something once before. I can’t be sure.