Didn’t Make Finalist in the Vocal+ Fiction Awards, But…

I’m not going to let it discourage me. After all, I felt as though it was a long shot in the first place. And not because of impostor syndrome or a lack of confidence. In this case, I am being a realist. There was a lot wrong with the story I submitted.

But at least I submitted one. If you’re curious, The Crate is available on Vocal, and I am toying with the idea of fleshing it out into either a novel of its own or part of an anthology.

Why I Felt I Didn’t Make it as a Finalist

In reality, I have a lot of reasons as to why I didn’t make it as a finalist. For the first time in my life I’m not focused on the mindset of, “I just suck as an author.”

Because that was my MO for the longest time. I’ve deleted a ton of writing because I never thought I was good enough. Well, that mindset is taking a backseat this year.

So, what are some practical reasons why I didn’t make the cut?

The Story Was Definitely Rushed

First of all, The Crate was a rushed project. I sat on my ass for a couple of months and thought I had plenty of time. Well, it came down to the wire and I finished the day before the deadline.

This ultimately hurt the story as I really didn’t have a chance to go over the piece and spruce it up.

That’s all my fault. I should have written it once I decided to write for the Vocal+ Fiction Awards. Instead, I procrastinated. Though, I did have a lot of family issues that took precedence.

Not to mention that I was also working on publishing A Freelancer’s Tale and starting Kingmaker.

Too Many Easter Eggs for Other Works

I have a habit of adding a lot of Easter eggs to most of my stories. It kind of ties them all together. The problem is that unless you’ve listened to Despair on YouTube or read my current novel, Kingmaker, you wouldn’t get the references.

This leads to a few inconsistencies, especially given that I didn’t go into detail regarding a lot of the plot.

It’s never good to keep your readers guessing, and I probably did that a bit much. It’s something I’ll consider in future contests as I plan to keep trying.

Too Many Questions Regarding the Plot

One thing that stands out to me is how I left too many unanswered questions throughout the story. Actually, it was my friend Sam who brought up that point when she proofread it for me.

Looking back, I can kind of see her point. I should have added far more detail to what was going on, especially when it came to the crate itself in the story.

This is one of the reasons why I want to refurbish the story and try again without having a 4,000-word cap. I like the story itself, but I need to reel back on the Easter eggs and make the story stand on its own merits.

Didn’t Submit Enough Entries

I didn’t realize that I could submit more than one entry in the beginning. In fact, I didn’t see that part of the contest until the deadline date. I guess that’s what happens when you don’t pay close attention to what you’re doing.

In the time allotted, I could have submitted probably around 10 unique stories. That is as long as I would have put in the effort to do so.

However, as I said earlier, I had a really busy last few months. Next time, I’ll make sure to pay closer attention to the rules and procrastinate less.

I’m Still Working on Improving My Skills

Lastly, I know that I’m not an overly skilled author. I’m still finding my groove and learning the ropes, and I have a long way to go before winning contest after contest.

This is the first time I’m actually putting in real effort to be an author. Sure, I’m a successful freelance writer, but it’s not the same as being a talented novelist.

Does this mean I give up simply because I’m not a phenom? Absolutely not. It just means I still have a lot to learn, and I’m looking forward to learning it all.

I Still Have a Lot of Writing In Me

I know a lot of people who would give up after not being one of 1,025 finalists. In fact, I know someone personally who gave up because he was rated as an average writer on Textbroker.

But like my freelancing career, I intended on becoming an expert. That means this year is going to be full of lessons learned.

If I put the same gusto into becoming an author as I did a freelancer, my future will look bright, indeed. That’s because I am eager to learn and not afraid to stumble along the way.

The trick is to learn from the negative experiences to improve your chances for next time. Because there always is a next time, as long as you don’t give up.

And giving up is something that isn’t in my nature…even when it’s clear that I should in certain circumstances.

I’ll Keep Trying with Upcoming Writing Contests

For the time being, I’ll keep with my writing goals for 2022 while entering as many contests in Vocal as I can. That’s because I am a writer, regardless of what contests I lose.

Instead, I’ll do what I can to be in a much better place this time next year. Because I know I can be.

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Michael Brockbank

I've been a freelance writer since January 1, 2012. I've worked with a myriad of clients and currently the Content Marketing Team Lead for GreenGeeks web hosting. My fingers are also in a lot of different industries such as gaming and fitness.

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Chris Desatoff
5 months ago

Sorry your story didn’t make it into the Vocal anthology. Would’ve been nice. But at least it was a good learning experience. On the bright side, the contest pushed you to take an idea out of your head, write it, finish it and submit it. Without that deadline, the story would just keep sitting in your head for another month/year/decade. And who knows? It might even work out better that it didn’t make it into their book because now you still have complete control over what you do with the story, what form it takes and where you publish it.… Read more »

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