I have to admit, I am a contest addict. I believe it began with a box of Weetabix cereal back in the early 70’s. They used to have a contest entry form on the back of every box – to win a trip for two to England. My brother and sister always wanted the cereal with the prizes inside. I knew my chances were better to win the trip to England than they were to get my hands on the prize before one of them did.
My mother and I would fill out the form and talk about the things we would like to see while we were in England. She had two aunts over there she wanted to visit. I wanted to meet the Queen. Of course I thought if I won a trip to England the Queen would want to meet me also, and would probably give me a tour of the palace, and some of the museums I had read about.
Yes, that’s what started it all. Visions of hanging out with Queen Elizabeth II.
My contest addiction became worse in 1984 when I entered, and won, tickets to see the Michael Jackson Victory Tour – an experience I have included in my memoir. I was fourteen years old by then, and had realized that winning the tickets did not necessarily mean hanging out with Michael Jackson.
The great thing about my addiction is that it keeps me searching for new contests to enter some writing samples into. I have entered contests all over the internet, and a few local ones as well. The driving force to that is not so much the addiction, however. If a writer wins a contest, and the piece gets published, that is a publishing credit – better than gold to an unpublished writer.
I decided to enter this one at the last minute, and spent two days writing and editing two pieces to submit. One, titled Nanny’s Garden, was a memoir piece that I had written last year. The other, titled The Tree, I wrote specifically for the contest.
I knew that Jennifer didn’t like contests. In fact, she was a contest-atheist. But I convinced her to do it. After all, what’s the worst that could happen? You don’t win, and you have spent some time honing your piece, and therefore your skills. Jennifer just wouldn’t believe that she could win. I made her submit her work that day. Forced her to press the button on the mouse before she left my apartment. I knew if I didn’t she would go home and ‘forget’ about it.
From time to time we talk about getting published. We talk about what it will be like when one of us gets published before the other. Now we don’t need to guess anymore. We are both being published in the same book.
I think we should go on tour. Maybe to England. I am sure the Queen would have us over for tea…