One of the things I love the most about the St. Davids Christian Writers’ Conference is the contest winner announcements at the banquet at the end of the week. It brings together the people I’ve met and admired all week long, plus, the winner’s submission is always read out loud. I love to hear the different writing styles and connect the writing with the author.
Last year, after missing the previous year of the conference, I decided to attend and enter the contests again. My writing habits had taken a nosedive and I was feeling negative about my skills as a writer. To be truthful, I didn’t think I had any skills as a writer and was considering giving it up.
I entered the “Devotional” and “Nonfiction Article” categories—going for my strengths—and the “Novel Beginnings” category. I wanted so badly to write full-length fiction and I’d recently begun a Young Adult work based loosely on my childhood. Although my writers group liked the beginning, I had convinced myself it wasn’t that great and, surely, others would not give me glowing accolades for my inferior work. Looking back, I entered the contest thinking my greatest fears would be confirmed—that I wasn’t a writer at all.
The night of the banquet came and it was time to announce the contest winners. I couldn’t even remember what I had entered, but I knew I wouldn’t win. It didn’t matter, though, because conference week had rekindled my passion for writing and, whether I won or lost was inconsequential: I was a writer.
I clapped and cheered as the winners in the devotional category were announced and my friends received their certificates. Soon, the moderator started reading the first place winner. I realized it was MY work. Although I didn’t take the win for granted, I had been published many times for my devotions before, so it seemed a logical win.
Then the moderator read my entry for nonfiction article. I had won another category! I shook my head as I took my seat once again, thanking God for this blessing. These two wins were a sure sign of His purpose for my life.
I had no sooner basked in the glow of my two wins, than I heard a familiar story being read. My writing group friends grinned in my direction. They knew my words as they had read them before. It was my entry for novel beginnings. I had won again! I began to cry. As my fellow writers cheered me on, I took my winning certificate, and then stared at all three achievements in front of me. Not only had God confirmed I was a writer, I had won the coveted “trifecta” of the contests. Winning the trifecta (or all three contests you can enter) is rarely done. I had won this coveted achievement when all along I hadn’t even considered myself a writer! Now, as my new friend, Bob Hostetler, had put it—I was an AWARD-WINNING writer!
With the glow of these wins still reverberating in me almost a year later, I’ve finished a good portion of my YA novel, have started a nonfiction book about stories and concepts from the Bible, continue my blog, and commit myself to writing at least twice a week for a whole day. God has positioned me in this place for a reason; He showed me that with these wins. Although the awards at conference don’t come with monetary value, the encouragement value from both the judges and my peers has propelled me to keep moving forward. I’m sure I’ll enter a few more contests this year, too.
Care to challenge me?
Sue is a self-proclaimed germaphobe, OCD sufferer (which works well for editing) and recovering Negative Nelly. Her blog examines the simple snippets of life to find the joy, lesson and fun in each moment. Working with authors to snip and refine their work in progress also brings Sue joy in her work as a freelance editor. She can be found at Sue’s Simple Snippets and @suefair48 on Twitter.