Last year, I entered the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Needless to say, I didn't win.
Today, I entered Write Club. It's kind of like March Madness for all of us prose-addled keyboard-lickers out there: your anonymous 500-word writing sample squares off against someone else's, and the winner of that goes to the next round, and so on.
Contests like these, though - the ones that run in stages, and show the results for each - let you see how you stack up against the competition. And as with an actual 5k, not everyone there is going for the gold: you might just be out to prove to yourself that you can run the race, or want to see if you can finish in the first 50%, or 20%, or whatever. Because when you think about it, "better than 17 out of 31 other entries" is a hell of a lot more useful feedback than "no." As often as we hear "no" (or more often, nothing at all), it's good to take a benchmark measurement every now and again, and see where you settle in the pack.
So if you're feeling brave, kick off your shoes, climb in the ring, and see how many uppercuts your literary genius can take. (But do not tarry, fellow fictioneers, for the deadline is today - June 30th - at midnight!)
Failing that, stick around here awhile - GrammatiCats returns on the Fourth of July!
How much can you know about yourself if you've never been in a fight?