Photo by Artem Beliaikin on

Sometimes just stepping off, or jumping, into the unknown is in and of itself the victory. Sometimes venturing out of our comfort zone is really what it’s all about, no matter the result.

Last week was a bit of a test for me in this regard. For the first time ever, I submitted a piece of work to a writing contest. Actually, I submitted pieces to two contests.

The first one was easier for me. It’s the CBC non-fiction contest. The only criteria was a word count of no more than 2000. And clearly, it must be non-fiction. Done. Submitted. I like that little story – but then it’s about my life, or rather a certain experience I look back at fondly. So of course I like it. To this competition, I even submitted a second piece! It’s much shorter, and about my first memory.

Cool. Felt good to submit.

Now comes the waiting to see what, if anything, comes of it. And I do mean wait… The “long list” gets published in September. Ugh. I’m sure there are a great many entries, so it’s not that surprising. Still, I’d like to know sooner than that! Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I expect to win or even be long-listed. I’d just like to know. I guess I still need to learn how to just let it go and accept the not knowing. Always a work in progress!

Then there’s the second competition. A piece of fiction, which had to include a black notebook and a $20,000 windfall, and be between 600-2000 words. For some reason, this one felt uncomfortable. So much so, I nearly didn’t submit! I went back and forth in my head – I will, it’s a good little story. I won’t, it’s just a silly story. I will. I won’t. And on and on.

At the last minute, I did. Why not? I’d done the work, so might as well. And this one is actually already published online. Maybe that’s why it made me feel uncomfortable – knowing it would be there, living online. It’s a site called Vocal – a forum for writers to submit their work, build readership, enter competitions (with prize money) and even make a little money. The more your work is read, the more money you make. It’s not a lot of money, mind you – it certainly won’t make you rich, but hey. Why not?

Shameless self-promotion side-bar. Would you take a few minutes to read my piece? As a new contributor to the site, it would be good for my profile. And if you want to “like” my piece, that would be awesome too. And really, NO PRESSURE! Apparently you need to sign up to be able to “like”, and that could be taking things too far. If it is, just step away.

Ugh…enough of that.

If you had told me a year ago that I would write and submit three pieces to two competitions, I would have looked at you sideways and said “really?” I’ve always enjoyed writing, but hadn’t put much thought into it. Now that I have done this, I feel a sense of accomplishment. That’s right, whether my work is deemed worthy of a prize or not, it feels amazing simply to have sent it in.

Sometimes you just need to take that step. Even if it feels like you’re jumping off a swing into the abyss. What’s the worst that can happen? People won’t like what I’ve written? Oh well. Not everyone’s going to think my pieces are fun, or good or exciting or well-written. I’m not trying to please everyone. I’m just writing, and putting it out there.

And the putting it out there feels good. The putting it out there is the accomplishment.