I’ve never had good luck in contests. I ran track in high school. I never did better than last place. I played basketball as well, but we weren’t very good. I learned early on that athletics would never be my path to success. In fact, I don’t remember ever winning any big contest.
I have children now and everyone gets at least a participation trophy. “Hey you showed up, way to go. Here’s a trophy.” When I was young you got a pat on the back and, “Maybe next time, sport.”
I recently entered some writing contests. Both of these contest required you to submit the first 250 words of a finished, unpublished manuscript. These submission were read by other writers and even literary agents. No, I didn’t win, I didn’t even get a participation trophy.
I did get good feedback from other readers about the manuscript. At times it was frustrating because the advice would contradict. Sometimes I wanted to tell them that if they could read more of the book it would make sense. I did notice some themes in the feedback though, and this helped me make changes.
I am grateful to the people who organized and participated in these contests. I’m sure it was a lot of work. While I didn’t win, or even get a participation trophy, I did meet a lot of good people and get good feedback. That is better than any trophy anyway.