Sunday, August 31, 2014

Extra! Extra! America’s Next Great Author Volume 3! (FINALE Week 10 and Reflection)

I am skipping over weeks eight and nine of ANGA because neither week was extremely important in my eyes. It wasn’t some of my best or worst writing, and I didn’t find the prompts as exciting as some of the other weeks. Week eight we had to write a story based around color/colors, and week nine we had to write a story inspired from a piece we chose from the ELAC literary Milestone Anthology. I got third week eight with Avahline going home and tied for second week nine with no one going home.
            Week ten was the finale of ANGA and the last three contestants were myself, Lori, and Victoria. The challenge was titled “Your Universe or Mine?” and we had the task of going back to our original audition piece and creating and alternate universe or timeline from our original story.
I was particularly really excited for this challenge because my audition piece was an excerpt from The Unusual Isles. Because of this, the challenge basically amounted to me writing a fanfiction about my own book which I found awesome. It only helped that the excerpt was a part of Ellary’s story line, which is my favorite one from the book.
I don’t want to give away too much about the excerpt from the book I entered or the story I wrote for the challenge to avoid spoilers. I’m also not going to post my entry because this prompt actually gave me an idea to write a series of  stories that take place during the “two week gap” in the book, and the piece I wrote would be included in that collection.
As you’ve probably already heard from my Facebook page, I ended up coming in second for ANGA and I couldn’t have been happier about it. Sure, I would’ve loved to win the whole competition, but I knew that Lori had it in the bag since day one. She was at a skill level with her writing that was just beyond the rest everyone else in the competition and she really deserved to win.
            Out of all of the contestants in the competition, I probably had the lowest self-confidence about my writing. Although it may not come off that way, I am one my harshest critics and I think almost everything I write is terrible, and that almost everyone out there is a better writer than me. Throughout the competition the judges and the other contestants told me to have more confidence in my writing, but I still got extreme anxiety waiting for the results each week. Even coming in the top three a few times didn’t do anything to raise my confidence.
            Overall, I am so happy I got to be a part of this competition this year and last year. I honestly believe that this competition has helped me improve my creative writing skills more than any other workshop, Figment group, competition, or even English class I’ve even been a part of before. The prompts each week are always unique and challenging and they really helped me to improve my writing skills. Looking back at my entries from last year to the ones this year, I can see a substantial amount of improvement in my writing. The final reviews I got back from the judges said the same thing. They said I was the most improved out of all of the contestants in the competition, and I agree with them. Some people may see that as a bad thing, but I don’t.  I take it as a compliment.
            Where would I be today if I had never improved in my writing? Improvement is part of the journey of being a writer. Participating in contests like these on Figment are all about improvement. Some people may see it as a way to see if you’re writing is better than others, but it’s much more than that. In my mind, I would rather go home halfway in a challenging competition knowing that my writing had improved leaps and bounds from when I started, then end up winning an easy competition because everyone else failed to improve their writing.
            I don’t know if I’ll end up competing in next year’s season or not. I’m leaning towards no because I feel like I already did so well this season, but I guess I’ll decide later when the time comes down to it.
            For getting second places I get a winner’s certificate, a copy of ELAC: Milestone 2013 literary magazine, and $15. Keep updated on my Facebooks page because I’ll be sure to post a picture once I receive my prize!


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