I've never been fond of competitions. Deep down I think I suck and that I'm wasting my time and life and that all of this I've done is for nothing. I think of the people who are more successful than me, who have several published books and may not necessarily have even taken any writing classes. I think of my friends who have done more with their lives, or they have done what I want to do but better. Perhaps I am worried that I am still the consolation prize winner.
This is not just about writing, but writing most certainly applies. When I was in Tae-Kwon Do, I remember seeing other kids my age, or younger, get favored by Master Lee. They got to tell the story of how they kept an egg with them and safe for a month in order to earn their black belts, while Master Lee just glossed over my brother and me. The one time he asked me to demonstrate something, it was a kick I had never been shown nor had I heard of it. He then let Danny (his 10-year-old star and lead of the Demo Team) do it in my place, again. In school, I stopped going to the "award ceremony" at the end of the year because I knew none of the awards were for me. I always have felt like I was a step behind my peers, while at the same time I was being told I was smarter than they were.
Even now, as an adult, I cannot help but feel behind. No one is here to tell me I'm smarter or better than anyone else, and it's not about being told anything. It's about results. As a blogger, I have a small following and I lack the artistic skills necessary to make my blog truly successful (though, yes, I'm sure I could practice with my eons of free time). My short stories are not often commented on or shared. I still have not been published, and part of me is afraid to try. I have come to terms with the fact that I simply do not have the time to become an accomplished guitarist and will have to make do with being a mediocre one. I am trying to make friends, but most of the people I meet are academics and it is easy for me to imagine them looking down at me. Those feelings you get when you're a kid don't really go away, they just hide until an inopportune time.
Now I'm taking part in this Dark Crystal contest and I am... nervous. What makes me most nervous is the fact that I am really putting effort into this. I'm working on characterization at the moment, and next I will flesh out the plot lines more deeply and make them interlink. I've determined 5 separate themes that I feel should be maintained in order to truly be a Dark Crystal novel. I've read 3 of the 6 supplementary books (I'm awaiting a 4th, and hope to find the 5th soon). I'm taking part in the forums (my ID there is Skekspeare). I've even looked at some of my competition. In November, I am having the story critiqued by fellow writers. I have put aside my own novel, as well as other interests of mine, to pursue this. And, of course, there is absolutely 0 guarantee that I will be in the top 5, or even the top 500. I am nervous now that someone else, who may not have put in this much effort, will be a better fit for them. I'll even admit that I'm worried a friend of mine will win. I know of at least 3 who are participating.
It is wrong of me to wish that my friends do not do well, to be jealous of their success. My brain knows that, although my writing may be fantastic, it is not the only factor determining the victor. They are looking for style, for someone to expand their world in a vision that excites them. But my mind does not know this. It has become Bitching Betty, screaming "Pull Up!" in my ear and telling me to eject. I've always been led to avoid things that are hard and risky. I remember when I first showed an interest in playing the guitar. My mom told me that the music industry is difficult and there really isn't much money in it. So, I didn't play again for 15 years. I wish now that I had never stopped. Since I'm putting a part of myself into this story, I am truly afraid that it is not worthy, that I am not worthy.
I suppose I should say that by not quitting, I am making myself worthy. But when your head is in the game, it's hard to see past the game. Only time will tell what I shall think of this experience.