Not Winning a Contest Doesn’t Mean Your Writing is No Good
The votes are in and the winners announced for the Second DWT Short Story Competition. Congratulations to winner Violet Toler and runner-up Easton Miller. Your stories pleased many readers.
Contests are rough on writers. If we enter and don’t win, it’s very hard to shake the feeling that our writing isn’t any good.
Possibly it isn’t.
But another possibility is that it just didn’t appeal to the judges–in this case, 667 DWT readers from every walk of life and from many different countries and cultures.
Hey, you can’t please everybody!
I didn’t read all 97 entries, but I did read the eleven that made the final cut. And I read the tabulation of the votes with interest. The two entries I liked best came nowhere near the top in the voting.
My picks were “Crazy Fay” by Sherry Roth and “2 AM and Counting” by Katrina Mohr.
Crazy Fay by Sherry Roth
In this story, set during a Florida hurricane, a middle-class woman glimpses a homeless woman in a coffee shop. The images are striking and the language fresh. I especially like the detail of the raindrop earrings:
Several people stood in line ahead of me, including one woman who had matted, wet salt-and-pepper hair, with rainwater droplets bizarrely hanging from her earlobes like a poor excuse for earrings. I tried not to stare, but those little droplets had me mesmerized. For her part, she didn’t seem to notice them.
Roth’s descriptions and the inner dialogue of the narrator work together towards a poignant climax in which the narrator’s good intentions, belatedly conceived, come to nothing. Now that’s true to life.
2 AM and Counting by Katrina Mohr
I can’t say I “liked” Katrina Mohr’s story about the drug addict, but I certainly admire her skill in taking me inside the head of a junkie waiting to rob a liquor store. From the first sentence I know that he’s a man who thinks about consequences and contingencies:
The car window was crank-powered, not electric, but he preferred it that way. He never warmed up to the idea of being entombed in his car should it refuse to start.
The author chooses words and descriptions to appeal to all the senses:
the silver Zippo hissed…
he watched the smoke rise with his breath in the cold air
The ashtray was full, spilling butts and gray-white powder…
Bruises along the underside of his arm throbbed impatiently and he felt like he was about to puke again.
Congratulations to Daniel for generating so much participation in his second DWT writing competition. I look forward to the next one.
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