After my second book of stories was published, I felt there was no place for me to be entering comps anymore.A healthy discussion ensued about whether, after a certain level of success has been attained (one book published, two books...), a writer should step back and stop entering competitions. Or, on the other hand, since competitions are excellent ways for short story writers in particular to earn the money that their books are never going to bring in, should it just be Best Writer Wins, regardless of pedigree/level of fame?
I bring this up today because I just received an email from Narrative magazine announcing the winners of their First Person Story Contest: first prize goes to Gina Ochsner. Now, Gina Ochsner, a very fine writer, has published two short story collections and I see her name in many literary magazines, including the New Yorker. I don't doubt that her prize-winning story is worthy of the prize - but my questions would be, Should she still be entering these comps, given that she doesn't need the exposure/fame as much as some of us? The $3000 first prize is, of course, wonderful, and I don't begrudge her at all. But this is an ongoing topic of discussion, I think, and a worthy one. What are these competitions for? Who are they for? To be honest, this puts me off entering Narrative's new competition (details here), I feel like its out of my league and I shouldn't even bother. (This is not me asking for validation that I, too, am worthy... don't worry, my ego is intact!).