Two weeks ago I recieved a message from the Wattpad staff about some writing contest. Something about writing a short story about “a time where you stood up for the truth” or something. I totally disregarded it. If you’ve read any of my writings over at my other blog you should be well aware that there is no “truth” to anything I write. Everything is foggy, unclear, hidden, and there usually isn’t any sort of plot, theme, or reason behind any of my writings. It seems I channel my useless and directionless feelings into my stories so any idea about me writing about “a time where I stood up for the truth” was a lost cause.
Let’s also gripe about how the contest required a story that’s less than 500 words. This is nothing and with my typical paragraphs of about 100 words meant I’d have to write a story of only five paragraphs. How can you write a story about the truth in five fucking paragraphs?
Anyways, I ignored it for a week and then received another message from Wattpad: the same message about a writing contest. Well, would there be any downside to writing some 500-word drivel just for the fuck of it? There was nothing to lose besides time, and maybe I could churn something out in 30 minutes or so. I thought about it for a few days but didn’t care too much about it.
And then something happened on Thursday while I was sitting at my computer. The thoughts started to flow, the YOLO channeled through me, the idea that there was nothing to lose by bullshitting 500 words about “the truth” taking hold of me or some shit. I set to work carefully crafting a 500 word “story” about losing your mind on drugs, having a crisis, questioning the fabric of everything, and coming to no conclusion whatsoever. If you’d like you can read the final product here: I’d love to have some viewer support in this failed endeavour.
A fun thing happened when I checked the story on Wattpad today. It was ranked #142 in the tagged stories for the contest. Huh? That’s pretty high, isn’t it? Surely thousands and maybe millions of people submitted something so how the fuck was I #142? There was no way that was correct. I clicked the link to view my ranking and the #142 was out of like only 288 stories in total. What?! Shouldn’t there be thousands of thirsty people chasing after the glory of winning a contest? Apparently not.
It reminds me of a few other writing contests I somehow won before really pretending to be a writer, both at my local community college. The first one was about “what college meant to me” or some shit. I bullshitted an essay and won like third place or something. How? Why? I don’t know. I wrote something about college “making me into the person I was meant to be” or something. Once again, I don’t know. And there was another writing contest, one from an organisation called Transform Rockford which was hell-bent on turning our shitty run-down town into something of note here in the midwest. I wrote an essay complaining about the “lack of community” by noting that there’s a lack of grocery stores, doctor’s offices, and anything else to note in my predominantly African-American side of town, while also noting that liquor stores and bars seemed to exist in a greater frequency. Totally shitting all over the positive vibes that Transform Rockford seemed to be going for.
And I won…something. Second place, third place, I don’t recall. I won $50 which was the first cash I ever received for writing something. Even worse, I had to read my essay at the college in front of people. Jesus. That was awful, but luckily I was in speech class and knew that pretending I was a confident badass who had a point to make was just as good as actually being a confident badass who had a point to make. I read my critical essay, got a round of applause, awkwardly shook some hands, and walked back to my seat.
I wondered why I won something in these two contests, once again thinking it surely wasn’t due to talent or skill or anything. And I think I’ve stumbled upon a slight bit of truth to why I won because of this silly Wattpad contest: no one actually submits anything.
The rules of the Wattpad contest are straightforward enough, but also convoluted enough that I assume a bunch of people halfass reading the actual requirements misunderstood it. The message links you to a page that gives the rules of the contest, and this page gives a link to a tag that you must click on to properly tag your story with. Basically, writing a story and manually tagging it doesn’t seem to fulfill the contest requirements. How many people wrote a submission and failed to read the rules and tag it properly? Thousands? I don’t know. Maybe people are just slackers and think they’re failures and don’t even submit anything.
So the chances are improved by people not reading the rules like a lawyer would or being too sheepish to even try. 288 people? That’s all I’m up against? Well, fuck, I might have a shot based on pure chance alone. A 1/288 chance is magnitudes better than the fucking lottery, and any skill you actually have only improves your chances. And simply submitting something and overcoming your natural self-hatred and suspicions that others are miles better than yourself also improves your chances. Maybe everyone thinks they’re shit and how many people are discouraged and never submit anything? I really don’t think I’ll win, but any thought I have about the matter is out of my hands. I got off my ass, wrote something, submitted it (properly too!), and put myself out there. As with the other contests that I somehow placed in, I think the fact that I actually tried was a huge factor in being successful. If you never try, you’ll never win, right?