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Courage and disappointment

I received the form rejection email for the story I submitted to Write Michigan today. It was folly to think that the first story I ever sent in anywhere had a snowball’s chance in hell, but it was still disappointing.

What took courage for me was to go to the website and look at the top 10 stories that are the finalists and will be up for public voting for a short bit. I wanted to read what I lost to. I only got through the first story when I said to myself this is masochism.  I’m sorry I read the first one.

You see, what has the #1 spot is a story about a mother murdering her child because the child didn’t live up to her expectations. Now I can’t get it out of my head. Maybe that’s what makes a story a winner: something so evil and horrific that it haunts the reader?

One part of me wonders about resenting the writer whose story was chosen over mine, where another part knows it is about the content that caused revulsion. I read stories all day long on Word Press, so I feel comfortable knowing quality writing when I see it. This story wasn’t quality. It was more like, what is the most revolting, objectionable act a human being could do? Answer: Willful murdering of a child – and beyond (I don’t want to say what happens next.)

Sorry, but if that’s what it takes to win, I don’t want any part of it.

Update on 2/5/20.  The story that haunted me (described above) won first place in the judges’ eyes.  List of winners found here but titles only.  Not sure if you can access them now unless you buy the anthology.  I’m about to fill out a survey they sent asking for feedback.  Not sure if I’ll skip it or tell them my thoughts.

37 thoughts on “Courage and disappointment

  1. I do sometimes self-censor against writing stuff like that. I can imagine doing so if there were some larger and better goal; e.g., if she rationalized it or did it under the influence of drugs or a cult and then felt completely horrible about it…in other words, a “cautionary tale.”

    Were numbers 2,3,4, etc. of similar ilk? Was it the fact that the writer examined something horrendous the reason for winning or was there something else at work?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t want to speak for the author or their intent in the story, but it almost felt like they were trying to be clever with it, which really turned me off. If you want to read it, you can go to: https://writemichigan.org/ It is story #1 in the 18 or older group. I didn’t read beyond that first story so I don’t know what they were like.

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  2. Maybe the number one story was submitted by a friend of some of the judges. There also could be some nepotism involved, I know that your stories are good so just keep on writing. At lest you can sleep at night and I don’t know how a person that writes a mother murdering her child can do that. What was your story about?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. May be, Jim. I want to believe nepotism wasn’t involved but who knows. Thank you for your support, it is sincerely appreciated. My story was about two people who get together later in life but find it difficult to leave their baggage behind when interacting with each other.

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  3. Mostly, stories are chosen for how they make the judges feel. It’s about the emotions evoked. However, having said that, i don’t read stories where children are murdered, abused, or manipulated — unless the person who does it gets what’s coming to them!
    I’ll go and have a look at them, but I’ll skip the first one. And it will teach me what the judges want, even if I don’t understand how the stories worked for them.
    And you do have to keep trying. It’s a long road, lots of bumps, signs that don’t make sense, and rules that are hidden under the tarmac.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cage, I appreciate everything you are saying, thank you. I know you’re well-versed in the process of writing and submitting and publishing your work. With reading the stories in the contest, keep in mind this is MICHIGAN not the whole world, and the HQ is a Republican nest (the VanAndel and DeVos family’s home base) which may or may not influence. Maybe since Republicans are ok with caging kids they are ok with killing them also? Thank you for your encouragement, I don’t want to give up and don’t plan on it.

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      1. It seems if you’re not a local, you can’t read the winners, anyway.
        I’m a sticky-beak, I read all comp winners to see how the wind blows in terms of what seems to be coming forth.
        The big however, however, is that a writer can only envisage a particular reader, and it’s only that reader who counts.

        R’s caging kids? I remember that story – a good place to make an antagonist, I think, a really evil … [best stop before I go too far]

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        1. Only locals able to read it is so strange to me! If it is supposed to be “open to the public for voting” anybody that isn’t directly connected to the contest or the sponsors should be allowed to vote, regardless of where they live! I will keep your advice in mind, Cage. About the caged kids, they continue to be caged. Some get farmed out to foster homes (in GR foster homes connected to one of the ruling families!) It’s ugly and getting uglier as long as the buffoon is at the helm.

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      1. You will be published somewhere… too much quality and imagination… don’t get discouraged… and my non experienced opinion… don’t write to order like they did… write what you love.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Can you celebrate that you sent out your first story for publication? Can you celebrate that you are writing/sharing on your own blog? Can you celebrate the growth and learning that you are creating for yourself? It looks like you could be having a celebration party today.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for flipping the script, Ali. I did celebrate the day I clicked the submit button, and it is a reason to celebrate. There is much to be thankful for. There is also disappointment, not that my story wasn’t chosen as much as what was chosen.

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  5. Awww Sorry your piece didn’t get chosen, as I know you write really good stories. Here’s hoping for the next time, and there definitely should be a next time.
    Those rejection notices are just part of the game. You can be proud of your work, and that you were brave to send it in. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I hear you Lisa, I can only say I wonder too what goes on in the mind of those judging. I do think that sensationalism and crass are in, sadly. A reflection of our TV/Netflix/Fox world, everything is about murder. But in the end, you will find a way through to something much better as a source. Just sad it was your local source.

    Liked by 1 person

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