Sunday, June 27, 2010

Why I'm Entering Contests Now

A few years back I was terrifically anti-writing-contest. My basic desire is to write well, not to compete.

But times have changed. Publication is no longer the top criterion and recommendation. Today, winning and trumpeting prizes is how one establishes or re-establishes credibility with strangers, editors, and those who hire. Before 2006, my last cash-bearing poetry prize came in 1987; the last for prose in 1994. Nice awards, but literature now is a culture of prizes -- it feels like a blizzard out there, as you well know -- and many good young writers are now in the mix, so that old awards could make me seem like a has-been on resumes or in author bios.

Considering how many prizes there are, and the things that win them, for the best writerly mental health the appellation "award-winning" is best seen as decorative, or, more precisely, cosmetic. One's work can be beautiful without it.

1 comment:

  1. I've been pretty lucky with contests, and they are a way for me to justify writing so many checks for the reading fees. When you average it all out, I usually get at least most of it back.