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10 incongruous stages of entering a writing competition!


You tell yourself that you definitely, probably, won't ever enter your book into a competition. You don't need prizes or accolades! All you need is the satisfaction of producing something you are proud of. Yep. Definitely won't be applying for any prizes.


A friend/relative/Twitter tells you about a writing prize. The closing date is not-too-far from now. You know you won't apply, but you click on the link anyway – just out of curiosity.


Reading through the submission guidelines and looking at past winners, that sneaky little validation-seeking voice inside you starts saying, You know what, you should enter this – you might even win!


You converse with yourself – in your inside voice – for a few minutes/days. Then, not many hours from the deadline you finally decide to go for it. What harm can it do?! You've got to be in it to win it! Although, obviously, you are still totally not bothered about the winning part. It's the taking part that counts!


You spend the next few days in a writing frenzy, trying to prepare your extract/short-story/entire novel. You pester the friend/relative who initially suggested this infernal prize in the first place to proofread and copy-edit. You drink far too much coffee. But you still totally don't care about winning.


The day of the deadline arrives. Your eyes are blood-shot from staring at your laptop screen, your fingers are a bit numb from all the typing and, probably, you have either forgotten to eat or have eaten mainly chocolate and crisps for the last 48 hours. You take a deep breath. You press 'send'. You reluctantly admit that, although you absolutely are not bothered about winning, you would be quite chuffed if you were to be shortlisted.


Your entry has been submitted. It's gone. You feel pretty darn proud of yourself. You re-read some of the past winners' work and you're pretty confident that your stuff is just as good, if not better! For a few glorious hours you dream of the email/phone call you'll receive in a few months time informing you that your entry has made the final five. And although you're 100% not expecting to win, you allow yourself a little bit of daydreaming about going up to collect your prize at the fancy awards dinner while friends and family applaud proudly and say things like, “She was so modest, but we always knew she would win.”


Your work is being looked at – right now – by the judges. There is no more you can do. So, of course, you read it and re-read it and find all the minor inconsistencies, typos, spelling mistakes and sentences you dislike and reprimand yourself for not taking more time/checking more thoroughly/being better.


Despite being convinced that you will not be hearing from the prize committee, you mark the announcement date on your calendar anyway. Just in case.


You wait and, in the meantime, you try to carry on writing. You tell yourself that you definitely won't be applying for another prize. Nope. You don't need prizes... unless... maybe...?

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