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Can I Get a Testimony!

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jennifer.quail View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jennifer.quail Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Feb 2019 at 1:19pm
I do contests because I need hard deadlines. If I don't have them, I never finish or I go a really really really long time on them. (I had a fifteen-year chapter break in a fan fiction. Surprised the hell out of the eight people still following it at the time when it updated.) This one my friends were doing so I did it, even though the entry fee is relatively high. Getting a broad spread of feedback is useful, though more by aggregating--throw out any "this was really good thanks for posting" one-liners, and look and see if the negative critiques in particular have common denominators. If one person just didn't like something it might be them, but if ten people were confused by the same thing, it's not them.

Normally I also like being able to read the direct competition since most contests don't do that and with anthologies or magazines all you can read is what they picked if you want to pay for it later. I subscribe to Katarina Witt's view that if they're going to beat you, you want to see it. This round apparently that's not going to happen. But that's the first time it has. 

Winning would be nice. The ultimate goal is 'get paid.' 4500-1 are not good odds, but you don't win if you don't play.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Smith Corona Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Feb 2019 at 6:23pm
I've wanted to be a writer since I was a little girl. I remember that my reasoning at the time was that writing an entire book was so hard that you essentially "earned" publication just by finishing. (That mindset - "If I tried hard, why didn't I succeed??" mindset has been my Achilles' heel all my life!)

I wrote throughout childhood and my teenage years. After college, I got serious about novels. I wrote two during my early/mid 20s, then I did NaNoWriMo three times, knocking out three more. I also wrote and subbed short stories at the time.

While I scored some short story publication credits over those years, I also ended up feeling really ground down by a combination of how competitive the industry is; some internal self-doubt that it honestly took me another decade-plus to make progress on; and some life events that made it harder to stay positive. In my late 20s, for the first time in my life, I stopped thinking of myself as a fiction writer and stopped pursuing what had always been my passion.

It was a good 7 or 8 years before I put a toe back in the water. Having worked out a lot of personal/internal stuff, I finally let myself goof around with a couple of story ideas, typing them up on my mom's old Smith Corona typewriter and considering them for my eyes only, with no attempts to measure up to anyone else's standards. Shortly thereafter, I saw an ad for NYCM FF on Facebook and entered on a whim.

I was in very slow, dull office environment at the time and had a lot of hours to kill, so I read and reviewed dozens of entries on the forums. I ended moving forward to round 2/the third story before washing out, but I really liked how it felt to be writing again, and I got into a fledgling online writer's group that's weathered some storms and is now really strong.

In 2017 and 2018, I wrote a lot more and entered a lot more contests and stacked up a handful of publications, as well as getting back in the rhythm of handling rejection. It felt different this time because my identity is less tied up in being a fiction writer; now it's an element of who I am, rather than my "one true destiny in life," as I had made it for so many years. With less pressure - and with the benefits of having more life under my belt now at 40 - I can write with a lot less self-doubt and insecurity.

This year, I'm setting myself monthly resolutions as 2019 unfolds, to help me focus and do creative stuff in bite-sized pieces. I"m finally attempting a new novel/novella, though I"m being slow, careful, and deliberate, and I"m not going to allow myself to hang all of my hopes on it.

Lately I'm using the forums as a way to look up writers with no feedback and share some encouragement. I'm hoping to move forward to the next round but especially hoping to get a prompt that inspires me to write something I can truly love so that I can start pursuing short story publication more regularly.


Edited by Smith Corona - 07 Feb 2019 at 6:23pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote bleustick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Feb 2019 at 6:41pm
I am the opposite of a child prodigy success story. Basically.

Wrote (directed, casted, starred in) my first puppet show in grade 1. Wrote (directed, casted, starred in, had angry director meltdown in middle of performance) my first play in grade 3. Finished my first complete novel in grade 6. Teacher helped me pitch it to a small press by age 12, but they didn't believe I'd written it (as in, stole an adult's work). Wrote/drew my first comic at age 15. Started a blog at the same age that garnered a small fan base and friendships with a strange assortment of other writers, cam girls (back when that meant hosting a live feed [or multiple feeds] into your living room [or whole house] 24/7, the precursor to reality TV), artists, alt models, otaku, and musicians. Spent most of the school day throughout high school in the dark room (discovered passion for photojournalism alongside writing). Spent the rest of my time at my dance studio (competed nationally in ballet from age 4-17, taught the classes for ages 3-11 when I was 15) or writing. Wrote another novel as my senior project. Started journalism school at 17.

I was going to be the next Hunter S. Thompson. I wasn't.

Spent the next 10 years of my life running an artist's co-op with my best friend, which devolved into a band of nomadic drunks and scholars, which devolved into an incredibly toxic violent hurricane of awful. I somehow managed to keep the operation financially afloat almost single-handedly, through a decade stream of sh*t jobs, a few years in the Navy as an Arabic linguist and jet mechanic, engineering school, more sh*t jobs. This whole time I continued to read feverishly and write constantly in the margins of my life.

Eventually... it blew up. Bad sh*t happened. My husband and I cut ties with our mutual best friend and her boyfriend. Last summer, while pregnant with our 3rd kid and after serving tables over 60 hours a week for years, I finally got to quit my day job to stay home with the kids... and write. I was thrilled, but in insanely new territory. Writing didn't have to be in the margins anymore. Life had been shockingly peaceful and free of chaos and terror for a couple years. Now what? Where do I start?

I don't remember where or how I saw an ad or blurb for NYCM, but I did. And on a whim with my very last server tips, I threw $40 down on FFC 2018, pregnant and thoroughly struggling to adapt but desperate to finally live like a real writer in some fashion.

It has changed everything for me. I am not making a living as a writer yet, but there is hope. And momentum. And I finally feel okay about being 34 and unpublished after years of thinking I had to be a teenaged prodigy or bust.

Sorry so long-winded. But already I really get how people end up competing here for years, with or without a win. Because nobody ever truly loses here.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote nod1v1ng Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Feb 2019 at 6:54pm
Originally posted by bleustick bleustick wrote:

. But already I really get how people end up competing here for years, with or without a win. Because nobody ever truly loses here.

I luv this so much. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Josh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Feb 2019 at 10:43pm
I escaped through reading. I discovered through writing. I grew through teaching/mentoring/critiquing. 

Poetry became a fun way to garner attention from people. It also opened me up to becoming an addict for wanting to be read. Many of my poems attained publication through the school literary journals, from elementary all the way through College. I never had the courage to submit outside of my own safe circles. 

Then it hit me - being a bilingual poet - niched me. Labeled me. Made me "desirable" because I filled a void - a quota. Maybe it wasn't my writing which they wanted or liked or appreciated or enjoyed - but it was the fact I produced a voice they felt they needed. 

So I quit poetry.  

But I had also been writing fiction all that time.  I managed to have a couple of flash pieces be accepted in some of those journals as well - but it was a very rare occurrence. 

So I focused myself to improve my fiction writing. I struggled with it. Why? Because I was good at being a POC writer with Niche Writing styles/concepts/genres. But I wanted to be accepted as a Mainstream writer. 

So I did this contest (flash Fiction version) a few years ago. I bombed. 

I found a group of writers through that contest. We formed online community on Facebook. I became entrenched in learning all I could about writing while supporting my new friends in their goals. 

It has taken me several years and over a hundred written pieces (flash, essays, short shorts) to realize I am a POC writer who does well with Spec Fiction - especially in Magical Realism, fables, and myths. And that alone is worth the price tag of this competition year after year. 

I took First in round 1 of the Short story Comp last year for my heat by embracing this. 

I fell out in round 2 by not. 

But I will still challenge myself to be more than what I am naturally good at. And this is the place to do it. 


Edited by Josh - 07 Feb 2019 at 10:45pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote topangarose Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Feb 2019 at 1:44am

I've written all my life. Or most of it. But I've always loved writing. That doesn't mean I was good at it, but I really loved it.
Back in 2007 I felt like my life light was snuffed out. I felt unfulfilled, and I had just lost my job and was uninspired to find another. I hadn't written anything for a number of years which was very unlike me, but I thought I'd like to do it again. 
I went looking for a writing job in the classifieds and found an ad looking for judges for this contest. I thought, well, I can read, and I've read a lot, and I know what a good story reads like, and went to check it out. What I found sounded like so much fun I entered instead.

What I also found was a learning experience like no other with a great community of writers.
Here, I was able to read  hundreds of stories that were so varied and interesting that I went all in. I read and read and read. (unemployed, remember?)

I thew my story on the forum and  held my breath telling myself I could take it. Whatever people said, I could be tough. The critiques rolled in, and all came with really good ideas from all level of writers on ways to make my writing clearer and more focused and they were all helpful. Every one.

I also got the advantage of learning how to critique to the best of my ability from reading others and just trusting myself as I read other people's offerings. I met and become friendly with other writers here. We cheered each other on. For me, it was never about trying to win the prize. It was just about the fun of writing. That's pretty much still true for me. Even though it would be nice to earn that fifty bucks back.

For the first few years I didn't even know what a beta writer was. Then I learned, and friendships formed here offered that service and so we teamed up. Friendships grew and writing groups were formed. Some of us have even managed to meet in the real world.

Without the help, support and love from the writers here and in those groups I spoke of, my writing would never have gotten any better, but now, looking back on the caliber of story that I wrote back in 2007 (which actually went to the final round and won a prize-  a lot fewer people then...) It's clear how much my writing has grown. How much I've learned. And it was all from other generous writers like you all. What has also grown are the friendships along with good advice from people I now trust to support me in my fledgling attempts to get my writing out where other people can finally read it.

This is the next best thing to a writing program that you'd pay thousands of dollars to attend. And it's done with love!




Edited by topangarose - 08 Feb 2019 at 11:42am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote redhart Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Feb 2019 at 3:59am
Back before a lot of you were even born, in a decade known as the 70’s, I was writing one page stories with illustrations, stapling the pages together and getting my mum to read them.
 I have dabbled over the years, without success or much joy tbh.
So when my husband retired, we moved out of the city to a rural area and I am now semiretired. My interest in writing has resurfaced, and with the internet everything is so much easier to access. Found NYCM on FB and thought why not, $50 for feedback sounds reasonable. My first submission in SSC last year came 5th! Well you could have knocked me over with a feather, now I wanted to win this thing!LOL Round 2 saw an end to my meteoric rise, but I was hooked. I love the prompts and the deadlines.
Just starting to write my first novel and I find the competitions here like exercise for my brain. The more I do, the stronger I get.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Suave Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Feb 2019 at 6:17am
Originally posted by redhart redhart wrote:

Back before a lot of you were even born, in a decade known as the 70’s, I was writing one page stories with illustrations, stapling the pages together and getting my mum to read them.
 I have dabbled over the years, without success or much joy tbh.
So when my husband retired, we moved out of the city to a rural area and I am now semiretired. My interest in writing has resurfaced, and with the internet everything is so much easier to access. Found NYCM on FB and thought why not, $50 for feedback sounds reasonable. My first submission in SSC last year came 5th! Well you could have knocked me over with a feather, now I wanted to win this thing!LOL Round 2 saw an end to my meteoric rise, but I was hooked. I love the prompts and the deadlines.
Just starting to write my first novel and I find the competitions here like exercise for my brain. The more I do, the stronger I get.


My first got a HM, and that was really something for me too.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Nikki99 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Feb 2019 at 6:29am
Oh my goodness participating in this competition means so much to me.  In what seems like a former life I was a kindergarten teacher, a job I loved but decided to give up for a few years to raise a family. The birth of my second child was complicated and I was very poorly afterwards, this also coincided with the untimely death of someone very important to me. These events just seemed to suck out my life force (I am the Delores from my R1 story!) and led to severe depression and agoraphobia. 

Last year I decided enough was enough and for the sake of my family I had to try and make changes. I thought about how I enjoyed writing when I was a teenager and how useful it could be to distract my anxious mind. It immediately had a positive impact and around this time I stumbled across the NYCM website. On a whim I entered the SSC and came fourth in my heat. The impact was huge - the sense of achievement when I hit the submit button for my stories was a buzz like no other! I had completed something I was proud of - I had connected with the world and with positivity! (The fourth placing certainly a fluke - but hey life throws plenty of curve balls, nice to catch one now and again. Wink)

A year on and still a complete novice in the challenging (though magical) realm of writing, my target this year was to enter the SSC but this time to actually post my story and connect with others on the forum. I am so proud to have done this and oh my, what supportive and inspiring people I have had the joy to connect with (most notably Sootfoot5, a guardian angel to a newbie).

Next year my goal is to try and complete my story ahead of the deadline to have time to Beta - I spend way too much time procrastinating and write to the final minutes, so have not yet submitted a story that has editing time for myself let alone making it to the eyes of another!  This would be huge for me particularly as my grammar and punctuation tend to be somewhat erratic.Embarrassed

It is also amazing how posting on the forum and receiving the support and feedback of others has led to other positive changes in my life. Most notably I joined a local writing group this week. I had known about the group for sometime but it was just too intimidating to imagine attending, getting there, talking, having to share my writing. But I did it!!! And I can honestly say without this forum I would not have attended.

I am sorry if this post is rather melodramatic but I felt compelled to share as I imagine there are others around here like myself who write as therapy and I would urge them to fully embrace this supportive forum.  This post also provides the perfect opportunity to say thank you for the welcome, support and encouragement I have received since joining this community - it truly is a very special competition!



Edited by Nikki99 - 08 Feb 2019 at 6:42am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tim G Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Feb 2019 at 6:40am
I entered the Short Screenplay contest as a change of pace from the novel I was slugging through. Made the final. I was hooked.

In the two and a half years since I've come to realise that I appear to be a better writer of screenplays than of prose (never made a round 2 of prose). As such, and thanks to this board, I've taken the decision to try adapting my MS into screenplay form.

It's a terrifying wonderful thing, and I've got all you guys to thank for it.

Beyond that I've made some great friends on this panel, and it's been a thrill to get to know and celebrate (and maybe exploit in beta!) the different sensibilities and proclivities of many of the 'regulars' as writers. A proper community of people who are (literally) invested in their writing and the writing of others.

Well worth the $200/yr subscription I pay in 4x entry fees :D

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