Back on October 1, I received an email flyer from my community center/library. I get them monthly, no big deal. But Ocotber’s grabbed my face – Short Story Contest, here’s a picture for your writing prompt, 1500 words, Halloween Deadline, GO!
Ordinarily, short stories don’t work for me. If they involve characters I already know and love and events that fit within their little universe, okay, I’m good with that. But anything else is frustrating to me, usually. And writing them? HAHAHAHHAHAH!!!!!!
Let’s just say some of my bigger projects started because I thought I could write a short story.
But in that email flyer the trite picture of a little fairy house in a tree stump surrounded by mushrooms captured me. Within 30 minutes, I had a story out and done. I waited 2 weeks, edited the story, then sent it in.
I got a call halfway through November, informing me that I’d won 2nd place.
“It was fun and cute,” the librarian told me over the phone.
“Thank you,” I said graciously.
In my mind I was thinking 2 things, neither of them particularly gracious:
1 – This is a small, isolated library with a small pool of writers to pull from. If I had won 2nd place in a Pikes Peak Library District contest, that would be something to crow about – a lot more participants = stiffer competition.
2 – If number 1 is true, WHO THE HELL WON FIRST PLACE?
In looking at my story with a month’s distance, I realize it could do with more editing – more style than anything. My grammar is good, my spelling is fine, but my phrasing is still a little clumsy. On the other hand, for a piece only 970 words, it isn’t a bad place to start.
BUT WHO THE HELL WON FIRST PLACE?
I wanna read it. I wanna know what made their story better than mine. I wanna know if we’re talking about the difference between flavors or if there’s something truly superior about the piece that won first place.
My husband thought my reaction amusing. To be honest, for a minute I thought he was going to fall off the couch because he was laughing so hard.
I have to wait until the library prints them all out and puts them in a binder for public viewing before I can
march mosey on down there and demand ask to read it.
I suppose this speaks volumes about my ego, but if I’m honest with myself (and you, dear reader), then I have to admit I WANT TO KNOW WHY MY STORY WASN’T THE MOST AWESOMEST THING THE JUDGES (presumably the librarians) HAD EVER SEEN. I can’t help thinking about it. I’m not going to demand a recount or a new contest or anything, but I desperately want to know if there is a concrete reason why I was second.
Hilariously, I know myself well enough to also know that if I hadn’t placed at all, I would’ve been hurt, but would’ve shrugged it off. “A lot of people entered,” I would’ve said. “There’s a lot of talent out there. It isn’t surprising that I didn’t place. It was just a one-off manuscript that I didn’t put much time into.”
But I did place.
I placed second.
And I wanna know WHY FIRST’S STORY WAS BETTER THAN MINE.