In this letter I’m going to leave a warning for you, so that you don’t make the same mistakes I did regarding prizes.
When I won the first place in a regional contest of short stories, I was feeling all right, it helped me rise my self-esteem and confidence as a teenager, and also, I didn’t feel the need to boast about this accomplishment, I received it with humility. Soon after I would won another contest, but the difference was that it was a national contest of creative writing, I only achieved to be a finalist (honor mention), but it helped me believe I had real talent for writing, and it was a nice prize I got: a free trip to a northern city to visit a famous museum, the Museum of Sipán in Lambayeque. I had the opportunity to meet the jury, which was represented by renowned peruvian writers, and also I was able to share leisure time with the winners. I was almost seventeen.
Later on, I would received recognition in another national contest of creative writing, the National Juvenile Contest of Stories in memory of Germán Patrón Candela, a very important competition in which I was finalist twice. At this point, I started to believe I was too good, that the other participants had won by mistake, that I was the undeniably the best. Do you realize how winning prizes had started to spoil me?
When I got into college, I won the first place in the National Universities Floral Games Eduardo González Viaña; I have to tell you, I was pretty satisfied with this, because winning this prize validated my talent for writing. At this stage I believed I was the best of the best, I felt I was floating in the sky, I felt superior to all youngsters that intended to write, because I had found my true vocation at an early age, and had earned recognition early in life too.
Then, I won the first place in the II Constest of Short Story Full Page, which was organized by the Peruvian-American Center El Cultural. I received a nice amount of money and a diploma, and of course, my picture was published on a newspaper (this was not the first time I would be in the newspaper, for I got to be interviewed when I won some of the early prizes). It was all happiness, and I felt like dancing in the stars. (To read details about my prizes, go to this page)
The problem was that winning these prizes convinced me I was too good, and consequently, I could stop growing for a while. And so I kind of overrated my writing for a couple of years. This was letal, because I kept on participated on contests, this time, at an international level, and guess what, I lost them all.
Then I had some health issues and couldn’t dedicate my time to write properly, but soon after I would recover, and thought, that I should stop participating in contests and start working hard. I began to read more and to write more. Having lost all those contests for a while taught me a lesson: never let your victories conquer you, stay grounded in teh earth. No matter how many time you win, never stop believing you can do better.
Subsequently I published a plaquette called Prosternación and a poetry book called Rain. Soon after I began to be recognized as a young writer and participated in literary events such as recitals and lectures. I also organized these kinds of events as a cultural promoter (to know more about me, click here). And then I published my first book on Amazon, and the second, and the third. As I told you in my first letter, the journey is just beginning.
I hope you enjoyed this letter and found it helpful. I’ll be so glad to know about your thoughts and comments regarding this issue. How about you, have you ever felt overwhelmed by your victories?