Can You See? — Winning Poem

A couple months ago, I entered the Will Albrecht Young Adult Writers Contest and winning third place has made me realize a couple of things.

Sometimes, the writing is actually the easy part because even if the product of your efforts is less than stellar, at least you’ll have had fun creating it.

Sometimes, the hard part is actually entering competitions, which is something virtually necessary for anyone who wants to get their name out there or who’s looking for money to pay for college. First of all, there’s a sort of psychological barrier, because often, you’ll look at your own work and cringe at sending it into the wild world for everyone to see and critique.

Along with that package comes a sort of paranoid fear that your work couldn’t possibly be good enough to rival those of people who have been writing their whole lives.

Then of course there’s the infuriating parameters that writing competitions often set. Qualifications like being an alien believer, owning a flying car or being from North Carolina. If you do- against all odds – find a competition that you’re eligible for then you still have to reformat your work according to their frequently ridiculous rules or else risk elimination by default.

Once those stumbling blocks have been crossed, the process becomes a rather tedious cycle of sending out email after email to various competitions that instinct tells you you don’t have a hope of winning.

But every once in a while, instinct – or more likely paranoia – fails you and you’re wrong. That’s when all the work you put into entering these seemingly endless competitions seems worth it. Quite aside from the monetary aspect – although for someone going to college soon this can’t quite be ignored – as well as the recognition, I believe the greatest part about winning is the validation of your work. After all, you’ve just been handed proof that your writing abilities are worth attention and acknowledgment.

Alda Yuan

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