I recently got to help judge a story contest. I (and a few other people) were sent 10 short stories to read. I was told to rate my top 3, pick my favorite, and rate my bottom 3. I learned how hard it is to judge a contest. Instead of rating my top 3, I wanted to pick at least 5, and of those, it was nearly impossible to pick my favorite. Of my 3 favorites, 1 placed, and 1 took an honorable mention. One didn’t even make it as a winner! One of my least favorites took an honorable mention.
I’ve always kind of known intellectually that getting published is hard, and sometimes good stuff gets put aside for one reason or another, but knowing and knowing are two different things. Everyone’s taste is different.
Case in point… I’m currently reading A Boy’s Life, by Robert McCammon. It was this month’s book club selection, and I like it, but it’s a little slow reading for me. When I made this comment to my book club, someone else commented that they couldn’t put it down.
We all have different things that we like and dislike. I love horror, and many of my friends can’t stand it. Most of the time, I dislike comedies, which puzzles most of the people I know. Just because I don’t place in a contest or get picked to get published for an issue doesn’t mean that my work wasn’t good. It just means that someone else’s was a little better. Or, that it wasn’t to the taste of the person reading it. I don’t expect to be friends with everyone, so why would I expect my work, my best reflection of self, to appeal to everyone? It seems so simple when I put it that way, doesn’t it?
So a message out there to those of you who put your work out there for others to read. It’s possible that your story was someone’s favorite, but still didn’t make the cut. I don’t know about you, but that idea appeals to me. I’m not looking to have universal appeal. But to have someone be really passionate about my story would be awesome.
I don’t care about being famous, but I would like to have people know my name. I want to be the answer to the question, “Who wrote that really great book?”