Tuesday, March 15, 2016

You Can't Win Everything

Around these parts, the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition is a big deal. Erma lived in the Dayton region and wrote for several Dayton area papers for years (her column eventually went into national syndication). Every two years, a writing workshop is held in her name. The workshop is so popular it sells out in hours. But you can win the competition and get the chance to go, too.

In past years, I haven't entered the writing contest. First off, I'm not funny. Secondly, I don't write shorts (under 450 words). This year, however, an event happened one day and I thought to myself, "Yes. Let's write that up and submit it."

As you can probably tell from the title of this post, I didn't win the contest. And truthfully, I didn't expect to.

(You can see who won here.)

But I received an email from one of the coordinators yesterday which read:
I am writing to tell you that your essay “Be Careful What You Wish For” advanced to the final round of the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition in the Local Humor category and received some constructive comments from the judges.
Oh cool, I thought. Glad to know that someone liked my writing.
Would have been a 10 if the writer hadn't spent so much time building the premise and stopping right at the joke. I want to know what Tim did with the measuring cup.
Yes. I agree with the first half of the comment. I DID spend too much time building to the premise. I should have cut to the chase a little quicker. This comment is constructive and will help me with my writing down the road.

But what Tim did with the measuring cup has no bearing on the story. Which means that the reader didn't really get the piece, and so I'm more than inclined to believe that despite what the reader says, it probably didn't belong in the final round.

And that self-depracating feeling was backed up by the next comment:
I like the twist at the ending. I like that "the joke" is on her. More humor is necessary to make the jump from mundane to mirth.
Exactly right. This mundane moment could have been made so much funnier, and in Erma's capable and imaginative hands, I'm sure it would have been. But I'm no Erma. That much is clear.

The email ended with the following words:
I hope this brings a smile to your face this morning. Again, congratulations, and please enter the competition again in 2018!
I have to be honest: the words did bring a smile to my face. And even though that's all I got from this competition. I'll take it. Smiles are sometimes hard to come by these days.

1 comment:

sandra doninger said...

You should let us read what you submitted!!