Writing awards are sweet and sour. Like my mother’s meatballs. Only worse. The first time I entered a piece in a writing contest, I was secretly certain that I would/could/should win. I did not win. And worse, I received judge’s comments in the mail that I hadn’t expected. Hurt heaped on humilation!

But I tried again and eventually did win some awards. It is sweet to win. Sour to lose. Helpful to enter. If nothing else, entering a writing contest gives you a reason to sift through your work from the previous year and choose what you are the most proud of, and think about why that is. This forced “year in review” of your own writing can help you think about where you want your writing to be this time next year, and come up with goals to get you there.

And winning, well, that’s just fun. Winning is something you can share with people who love you enough to tolerate hearing about it. Once or twice. You can throw “award-winning” in front of your name like a flashing neon sign. Winning builds confidence, it’s rewarding. I still remember the feeling of consistently coming in last at track and field events as a dorky girl. Losing is never as much fun. But it can help us too.

It’s not a bad thing to have your writer ego take a beating every now and then…kindof a mild soul spanking to remind you that you can always be better at your craft. And judge’s comments can be helpful when they are constructive. Once, a judge wrote that if good writing was orange juice, my piece was Tang. Ouch and ick. Sweet and sour.