Success Breeds Success
How do you win a contest? The first requirement is to enter it. However, some fear the disappointment of rejection so much, they won't try. Failure is heartbreaking and if you don't try, you don't risk suffering disillusionment, but you also deny yourself the chance of winning and experiencing the elation of success.
I recently entered a contest in a new genre of writing, the first contest of its type in the world. It deals with Tourism Writing and it started in my home state of Alabama. Patrick Miller is the founder and the concept is to write fiction using real places and inserting photographs and links to interest tourists in visiting the highlighted locations. The first place featured was Moundville, Alabama; the second was DeSoto State Park at Lookout, Alabama; and the third was Mobile, Alabama, where I reside.
Entrants must focus on a particular place or event. I chose Mardi Gras, giving its history, and stressing its family-friendly atmosphere. Using the point of view of a masker riding a float enabled me to show how people from all walks of life—from former members of the royal court to the homeless and physically challenged—enjoy catching moon pies, beads and other trinkets. It's a great equalizer as attendees at parades, adults and children, end up scrambling for grabs they often share with others.
My entry, Raisin' Cain, won first place. The Alabama Tourism Department co-sponsored the contest and the prize was $500.00. The story is posted on the internet. The big thrill, though, was Congressman Bradley Byrne coming to the Mobile Carnival Museum for the Awards Presentation to present a plaque to me October 15, 2014. He also made a comment in the House of Representatives entitled Highlighting the Value of Tourism through Literature (September 18, 2014). This becomes a permanent part of the Congressional Record. In it, he mentions that I won the 2014 Southeastern Literary Tourism Initiative Tourism Writing Contest and that Dr. Sue Walker is currently teaching tourism writing to several of her English classes at the University of South Alabama. He suggests incorporating tourism writing into other college courses in all states.
This new genre has another spin-off. It can boost the economy in an area. When people read about places that interest them, they often decide to visit. Tourists spend money. Also, if enough people discover attractions that intrigue them, places become considered tourist destinations. But that only happens if they hear or read about those things; otherwise, they'll never know they exist.
I am happy that my story won this contest and the $500 prize. I am happier that it can lead to bigger things by promoting a challenging, innovative category of writing while boosting the economy.
I hope others will consider this and enter writing contests. If you don't try, you can't win. Better yet, if you win once, you may win again. Success breeds success.
Mary S. Palmer