In May 2016, I entered ‘The Becoming Writer Spring Writing Contest’. I have no idea how I came across it and I had never entered a writing contest before nor had I ever thought about it either. I belong to a few writing groups between Google+ and Facebook but I don’t actively participate in any of them.
What attracted me to this contest was that every writer who entered would get personalised feedback on their story. Every writer would also get premium instruction to help them write the best story they’re capable of. And for an additional $10, you would also get feedback from the judges.
The contest theme was ‘Rock Bottom’: That moment when things can’t possibly get any worse. What’s it look like? Every protagonist has to suffer, but yours is about to hit the brink. Does she fight her way out? Does he give up? How did she get there in the first place? Give us the whole story in 1,000 words or less.
Besides receiving feedback from my teachers on my assessments while I was studying for my Certificate IV in Professional Writing and Editing, I had never received any other comments. I have not received any critiques on my book either so it is hard to tell what I am doing wrong and how to improve. Though I did get several Distinctions and High Distinctions all through my studies, so I can’t be that bad, can I?
The main incentive of The Write Practice community is that every writer can post their story on a weekly basis for everyone to see and share feedback. That was one of the reasons I chose to stick with the group and pay a premium monthly fee.
I had about three weeks to come up with an idea. Reading the first drafts from other writers, they seemed to be mostly opting for the tragic and depressing stories. Which made sense, after all, hitting rock bottom is no fun. I laughed when one of the members said something like: I don’t envy the judges who will probably end up depressed after reading so many sad stories and hit the bar once it’s over. I didn’t want a depressing story and I was finding it hard to come up with an idea that was not. Even when I asked my friends what do they think of when I say ‘rock bottom’, they all came up with disturbing thoughts.
Then I remembered a phone conversation I had with my friend Amanda. We had been hoping The Huntsman would be movie of the week (tickets only $8) and by waiting for it, we missed it. So I suggested she should chain herself to the door until they put the movie on for us. It was a good five minutes of giggles on the phone. It also came to mind that I have another friend who is obsessed with Chris Hemsworth. So I put two and two together and voila! No Customer Satisfaction was born. I am not too happy with the title, but that was all I could come up with at the time and I guess now it doesn’t matter since I can’t change it.
When I received my first feedback on my draft, I was so scared to read them. The writer’s doubt creeping on me again. Am I actually capable of writing a story that someone will enjoy? Am I good enough? What if nobody likes it? I was worrying for no reason because it was nothing terrible, far from it. In fact, the member said he had fun reading my story and then provided other comments to improve it. I was overflowing with joy. Somebody actually liked my story!? It was such an achievement for me.
I only submitted my story twice in the workshop but I was happy with it and satisfied with all the feedback I received. I didn’t win and I am still waiting for the judges’ feedback which we wont receive until the end of August.
Meanwhile, we have another contest and the theme is “Scar”. I’ve got a vague idea for the short story and working on my first draft. And this is one has a 1500 words limit. It was quite challenging to keep the Rock Bottom short story under 1000 words.
You can find my rock bottom contest short story on WordHaus here and I hope you will enjoy it too.