Fiction War.

A few hours ago, the deadline for a 72-hour flash fiction contest arrived. ( I actually submitted my piece for the contest last night. All contestants were given the same prompt, and had three days to write a story based on same of 1,000 words or less. Mine clocked in at about 800 words. I went with a science-fiction theme.

I had big plans this year to enter many contests this year. I wrote that goal down and everything. But this contest is actually only the second one I have entered this year. There is time, perhaps for one or two more, if some of my ready-made stories are good matches, but I will almost certainly fall quite short of my goal for 2016.

What happened? I don’t have an exact answer. In 2016 I met my several of my writing  goals. I published my mystery novel both as an ebook and now in paperback. (The latter wasn’t even a concrete plan for this year, but I got it done.)

Though for most of the year my short story quota wasn’t looking likely, but in the last two months or so, I attained it after all. Might even publish some of those before year’s end.

Yet when it comes to contests, I haven’t made it. Part of it is being lazy, I guess. In some cases it’s the money. I’m not wild about paying to be in a contest. (Though I did pay 35 dollars to enter this recent one.)

I’ve been thinking that the bigger part is perfectionism. I’m not usually susceptible to it, to be honest. I insist on quality, I work hard to attain it and I am sometimes disappointed in the results of any given effort. Still, I don’t generally allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good, as the old saying goes.

Except with contests. I never quite feel like what I’ve produced in way of short stories is “contest ready.” Even when I really like something I submit, I’m not as at ease with the final product as I am with say, the novels. The novels aren’t perfect; nobody writes perfect novels, but I am nonetheless satisfied with them by the time I make them available. It feels like less of an act of supplication when I work on a novel and at last offer it, than it does when I submit something directly for the approval of a board or resident writer, or whoever a judge of a contest is.

Same things happens when I submit to a publication for mere inclusion, but seeking to be declared a “winner” has an extra ounce of apprehension associated with it, and I’m not one to feel great about losing.

I know, I know. Contests are an excellent, proven way to get one’s name into the publishing world and so on. I’ll do more of them as time goes on, I don’t doubt it. I may even get over my perfectionism for them. But just as nothing else in my publishing history has been conventional so far, neither has my relationship with contests.

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