Don’t think I’m not paying attention to you little word whores as you go about your daily business. A lot of you are hard workers, you keep your noses to the grindstone and you rarely look up. You don’t care for glory or attention and your greatest joy is seeing your clients succeed. Then, there are the rest of you fuckers. Yeah, I know what it means when your blog is written in broken English and you’re trying to brand yourself as an award-winning writer.
Normally, I’d not give two shits what you do with your time or how many people you screw over, you fucking amateurs, but on this particular subject I’m pretty touchy. That’s because I am an award-winning writer and it wasn’t just peaches and cream to get there. Those are titles given to a limited few and when you pretend to have bled until you were anemic for the blank page, I want to make you bleed out your nose.
How You Become an Award-Winner
“What does it mean to be an award-winner?”, you nose to the grindstone types might ask. “Isn’t that just meaningless marketing speak?” It’s not, and writers just like you are the ones who tend to win these things. You write because it’s your job, your trade, and you want to be the best motherfucker in the race. You probably already write at an award-winning level, even if you’ve never entered a single contest.
But they’re out there, and depending on your niche, there may be plenty of opportunities to show your stuff. Like a lonely male peacock, you’ll have to strut and shake your ass, but in the end, the notice you earn will follow you for a lifetime. Winning a major writing contest is the weirdest, most righteous experience most of us will ever have.
It’s like seeing Jesus on a grilled cheese sandwich, only slightly less tasty. Only slightly.
Winners win contests. That’s how this works. But I’m shocked by how many writers don’t realize that’s even a thing. They weren’t bred of lignin and ink and tears, they don’t know yet what it means to be at the very top of their profession. At the end of the day, kids, it’s not about how much money you can command (though that’s nice, trust me), it’s not about how many clients you have, it’s about how GOOD you are.
And if you’re the fucking best, there’s no reason to hold back.
Entering Writing Contests
There are some tricks to winning a writing contest. It’s not as straight-forward as just sending in your best work and crossing your fingers. First, there’s a fee involved, often a hefty one. You’ll have to save your pennies for this one. Second, you may have to belong to a union, guild or other organization that sponsors the contest you want to participate in — even more cashola to lay out.
Once you’ve overcome those hurdles, you’ve got to pay close attention. Often, contests will want multiple copies of your work (sometimes in print!) so the judges can each have a copy to mark up. You don’t want to just send in any old thing, look at the past winners and see if you can determine a pattern — is there some topic area or type of work that your chosen contest tends to award more often than others? You also have to make sure you’re entering your stuff in the right category. That can be trickier than it sounds.
It’s just like feeling out a client — figuring out their voice and giving them words to match — except a lot more is at stake. Yes, you’re paying a good chunk to participate, but you’re not buying an award. Trust me on this. You’re not the only fool to throw money at these things, the competition is fucking ferocious.
Once you’ve chosen your piece(s), you’ll wait — a long time and bare naked, raw, restless — until the judges have read your work and compared it to the work of others. If, and only if, the Gods of Writing shine upon you, you’ll take home a prize. And that little shred of paper will represent the pinnacle of your life’s work.
And it will be Holy and you will build a shrine to it. So sayeth we all.