Worrisome delays and contest fees

Well . . . here it is All Saints’ Day and we still have not heard anything about the finalists list for this year’s Robert Benchley Society essay contest. The winners were originally supposed to be announced on Hallowe’en, but then a delay was announced. I’m not sure why we haven’t seen even the ten finalists, though. Wonder if they haven’t gotten a judge YET?

It disturbs me because this contest has an entry fee, and presumably the plaque given to the top essay winner is purchased using this money. (And, of course, the final round judge’s honorarium has to come out of it.) I just browsed their blog and noticed that last month they had a huge cruise and party to honor the 2009 winner, and I’m not quite nice enough to skip wondering whether they used our fees to buy his plaque. . . .

No, no, no. It is awful of me to speculate.

Still, I’d like to see some announcement of the explanation for this delay on their website or blog. It simply isn’t fair to the others who paid their fees and are waiting to hear results. I personally enjoyed writing my Benchleyesque essays and wasn’t expecting anything out of it, but others may have had more expectations. They might not have been able to afford that entry fee as easily as some of us did (ahem, if hubby had ANY idea that these contests often have entry fees–but let’s not GO there). The responsible thing to do would be for whomever it is who’s in charge over there to post some sort of update as to why this delay is taking place once again this year. I realize time is short and all that, but the society did take in all those entry fees (there are around thirty entries on this year’s display page) and they need to do SOMETHING to keep people informed.

How do you feel about writing contests with entry fees? Most of the contests I’ve seen do have entry fees, even the RWA-sponsored contests. I can see the need for some compensation for judges and so forth, but it gets very expensive for writers, who aren’t rich anyway.

And unless you win or place and your manuscript is requested by an editor or agent, you may not get much out of your entry fee. I’m currently judging a contest category for an RWA chapter, and I’m not finding very much useful that I can say about some of the entries. I will not subtract points for silly things the way SOME judges do, but I also am trying to rank the entries fairly from “most publishable” to “needs the most work,” and it’s tough. I’m doing a lot of re-reading and re-grading. Because it’s important to those authors.


Author: shalanna

Shalanna: rhymes with "Madonna" and "I wanna," and is not a soundalike with "Hosanna" or "Sha-Na-Na." Aging hippie with long hair, husband, elderly mother, and yappy Pomeranian. I've been writing since I could hold a crayon. I started with fiction, which Mama said was "lying." “Don’t tell stories,” she would admonish, in Southern vernacular. “That's all in your imagination!” When grownups said this, they were not approving. So, shamed, I stopped telling stories for a few years--rather, I stopped letting anyone read them. I'm married to a fellow computer nerd who doesn't really like hearing about writing, but who reads sf/fantasy and understands the creative drive. I'm actually a nonconformist/hippie still wearing bluejeans and drop earrings and the Alice-in-Wonderland hair with headbands and sandals. Favorite flavor is chocolate/orange, favorite color is either Dreamsicle orange (cantaloupe) or bubble-gum pink, favorite musical is either Bye Bye Birdie, Rocky Horror, or The Producers . . . wait, I also love The Music Man. Is this getting way too specific and irrelevant yet? Obvious why I don't sell a ton of flash fiction, isn't it? To define oneself, I always say, it is good to make a list. How about a booklist? Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird Frank and Ernestine Gilbreth, Cheaper by the Dozen C.S.Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (all the Narnia books) J.R.R.Tolkien,The Hobbit/LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy Gail Godwin, The Odd Woman F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby J. D. Salinger, Catcher in the Rye (before dismissing it, actually read it) George Orwell, 1984 Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle Donna Tartt, The Secret History Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn James Allen, As A Man Thinketh Mark Winegardner, Elvis Presley Boulevard James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum Winnie-the-Pooh/House at Pooh Corner, A. A. Milne Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie The KJV and NIV Bible (each translation has its glories)

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