Friday, December 13, 2013

Competitions, contests and me

I don't enter my books into contests, competitions etc because I hate to lose. Oh no, rewind that, I didn't mean to say that, but actually, when I think about it, I DO hate to lose. Damn that competitive spirit. But I do have an issue with books, covers etc in competitions. Unlike a maths exam where you rise and fall on your own merits against a fixed outcome, that can never be true with any artistic endeavour. Because of course, it's all subjective. A cover one will love, another will hate. A painting adored by one will be decried by another. A story one finds compelling, another will find boring. So when you enter your pride and joy in a contest you're already up against it.

So who judges? Readers? A team of reviewers? Fellow authors? Artists? Probably all of those. I have entered a few contests in the past. One for BRAVA - just a start to a story and got nowhere, though I did get that story published soon after. I also entered a contest on All Romance ebooks - where I wrote a short story that went into a voting system and gradually numbers of entries were whittled down by the number of votes they got in their section. Maybe in another section, a story could have got through. Who knows? I read some super stories that didn't make it through and some poor ones that did. It turned so quickly into - how many friends do I have that I can convince to vote for me? Once I'd implored my friends in the ARe contest, I swore never to do it again and I never have.

I noticed that I have a few books and a cover in a GR readers' poll. I looked by chance and saw them. I haven't put them forward myself, some kind reader - readers did. Thank you so much if you are reading this. It means something special to me when others put my work forward, rather than me. And although I won't solicit votes, I would of course be delighted to win. But that's not going to happen - purely because I won't plead with every person I know to vote for me. Oops - now it looks like I'm saying that the one that wins will be the one with the most friends and not necessarily the one with the best book. Doesn't matter. There IS no best book. There can't be. It's impossible to judge fairly no matter what level of competition. Even the Booker Prize causes controversy because the judges have different views.

So - no competitions for me. I think my dislike of them goes back to my childhood. My mother was very pushy and wanted me to do well in everything. Puts a lot of pressure on a child. She made me learn the piano but I refused to do exams in that. She made me take elocution lessons and I was forced to do exams in that. Add all the revising for school exams and I began to rebel against the very idea of  competition because to me - there are too many losers. Life is competitive enough.


Anonymous said...

Great post! I'm really competitive in many things, but I agree that art and writing are too subjective. I'm always happy for the authors that win those competitions, but as a reader, I just love seeing a lot of books listed to get ideas.

Barbara Elsborg said...

If I add any more books to my TBR list, I'm never going to get round to reading them! I saw an author's top ten books the other day and added all of those. I'm hopeless.