CafeDoom's 7th Annual Writing Contest (Game Over, Man) - In Which Knowing Your Market is Perhaps More Important Than Being the Best Writer of All Time and for Ever and Ever
What? You mean I didn't win?
So, I entered a story in this years 7th Annual CafeDoom Competition 2011. It was an experience. Everyone who entered (there were around 50 of us) had to participate by reading each story and voting for his/her favorite. It was a grueling process and gave us all a brief taste of what it is to be an editor of even a small press publication.
How did I do? Well... I got myself a single point; that's right, one person voted for my story. But, in my defense, I sent the wrong story into this competition. There are others that I've written that would have been better, but this was the story I was working on at the time and I was really into it (that hot fever feeling you get when you're really enjoying what you're writing about) and so I sent it blindly, thinking: Oh yeah, I got this. This is the best story ever. I'll win for sure. Obviously, this was not the case and there were some very solid stories entered into the competition.
One of the problems I have: I'm an ambitious writer. I like to experiment in the realms of the surreal and the unusual; I really want to be original. I want to write creepy horror - tales of the uncanny. And, like most things I've done in life, my weirdness is my greatest strength and hindering weakness. In my striving to be different, I don't always hit the mark.
And it is important to read a publication before you submit a story to it. You may have a great story, but you're wasting your time with the wrong audience. So where do you send it? Where, pray tell, are your original and strange stories to be accepted for publication? Ah, yes, that is a question...
The most encouraging comment made about my story came from delph_ambi (Catherine Edmunds, Novelist and poet - check out her website; she has some interesting stuff on there - she's a little weird too...). She said: "Don't give up on Mickey's Walk [my story]. I really enjoyed that one and was surprised it didn't garner more points. But then I tend to write slightly weird stuff myself... I think you're right that it simply didn't fit this particular competition."
Thank you for the encouragement!
Keep writing. Research the market. That's all we can do.