Commentary and Philosophy Non-Fiction posted January 22, 2014


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Contests--My Two Cents Worth

by Spiritual Echo

Part of my weekly ritual of taking my grandchildren for swimming at the YMCA, is to allow them to go to the gym for tumbling, soccer or floor hockey--whatever the Y is offering after their lesson.


One regular, a strapping seven or eight-year-old boy was getting frustrated because he couldn't get the ball. I watched him totter on the brink of total frustration, but then he simply stopped trying, stood in the centre of the gym and broke into tears.


Of course, when the Y instructor saw this, he grabbed the ball and made sure that the boy got a shot at goal. He shoots, he scores! Most parents didn't notice this mini drama, but I did, and I cheered loudly for his 'accomplishment.'


It wasn't good enough for the kid. He had already engaged in his crying mode and when another kid stick-handled the ball from him, our victim continued to cry.


I've known many people who emulate that kid. When they don't win they get angry, frustrated, and simply stop trying. Others get pissed off and determined, and won't stop their efforts until they achieve their personal goal.


Then there's the flip side, the player who is very good, who sometimes loses his footing or goes into a slump. He's bought into his press and often becomes petulant as if winning is his God-given right, simply because he's accepted all the accolades. This player doesn't have to try as hard, often depending on old moves and tricks and shows surprise that his competitors have caught on and are out-playing him.


I toyed with the idea of stating right here that I wanted to get in my two cents worth to some of the points raised by other members about issues at FanStory. I'd post it, but would not cough up the promotional bucks and the essay would give members exactly that as a payout--two cents. That's what gets paid to the reviewer who reads work that has no promotional certificate attached to the post. I thought I might enjoy seeing which members read my essay and who caught the two cent irony. But I let that idea zoom by without a second thought. The reality is that without spending the money to keep a writer's work alive past the two-review 'freebie,'my essay would simply linger in my portfolio, read by a few fans, and never reach it to the front page where it might attract attention and open additional dialogue.


Promoting your own work is a fact of life on this site. It is very rare that I post anything without a certificate attached for the very reasons I've listed. Ranking is one thing, and I'll come back to that issue, but the real value is the feedback. I make the occasional remark about my gratitude for all the free editing I get at FanStory, but that is not a joke. Even when I diligently edit my stories, hit the edit button a dozen times before releasing the story, inevitably, someone finds errors. When I post something completely SPAG-free, it's cause for celebration. I aspire to that lofty goal.


FanStory is not the be-all and end-all, a dead letter depot for my stories and words. It is a discipline, a tool that inspires me to write--usually on a daily basis. My posted work here has been published in other venues and entered in contests outside of FanStory. This is not a hobby to me, but a process to help me achieve other touchstones on my journey.


As someone who has stayed in the top ten rankings for three years, my views on that subject may have some value for those aspiring to the same goal. Every year the calendar rolls over in January and all the egos gathered at the pinnacle come crashing down. It's very crowded on that playing field, but there are simple steps to move to a loftier position. For reasons I can't understand, therefore can't explain, posting work at the beginning of the year can give members a solid foot-hold on the ranking ladder. To put that into perspective, it's only the twentieth of the month and I have already posted seventeen stories this year. I have an insatiable need to write. I'm easily inspired and feel undressed if I don't feel the keyboard under my finger tips, but not everyone is like me. Some people spend a long time developing and crafting their stories. For these people, I'd like to share one of my key tenets that helped me in my 'other' life. Success includes 98% perspiration and 2% inspiration. Do it your way. Take all the time in the world to develop a story you are proud of, but when you do post it, make sure you give it a fair shake by attaching a promotional certificate to allow your work to flourish and be available for a few days.


More authors gain ranking position with their reviews and wins than by the quantity of posting they do on site. A lot of crap may fertilize a garden, but if you don't plant your own crop, you'll be hungry come harvest.


I play Euchre on a site, Hardwood, look me up. I'm signed in as Spiritual Echo there as well. There too, rankings are issued, players gaining status and notoriety. There are some pretty poor sports on that web-site, just as there are here and any competitive venue. On almost a weekly basis a losing player accuses another of cheating. Really, can you imagine cheating to achieve fictitious points or FanStory funny money? Some do, they Skype each other, telling their partner what cards they're holding. What a waste of time. What kind of lies do these people tell themselves? Even here, where I suspect there are some cheaters, I have to question what benefit they receive from manipulating wins. Let the cheaters do their thing. For those of us who cherish the craft and feel we are investing in our avocation, they simply don't or shouldn't matter.


I haven't invested real money on this site, beyond the membership fees, for a very long time. Once, a very long time ago, a writer whom I considered a hate-monger, posted an essay in the number one position on the feature page. To say I was incensed is an under-statement. Not only did I whisk out my Am-Ex card in a flash, I think I spent something around seventy dollars to shoot my rebuttal right up to a cozy position right beside the author of my disdain. As I was somewhat nasty and went right for the jugular, that experience cost me the cash and my first suspension from FanStory.

Yes, it's possible to buy your way to the feature section. That ensures the writer will get a lot of reviews, the pay-out for reviewing is far too tempting to ignore. If a member wants to garner favour, attract new fans or increase ratings, they can buy their way into this positioning. All work shown in the Featured Story section appears as a result of self-promotion, but all are not paid for in real currency. Member pumps, that everyone can earn, especially if one reads the new posting each day, can also accelerate the rise to the top of the front page. That doesn't make this group the best writers on site, only the most affluent.


On the other hand, work shown under the 'Well Received Stories' is all member generated approval. The reviewing reward might be as low as twenty-seven cents, but it is based on our reviews. Get five reviews in very quick order and you too can be on FanStory's home page.


It's very humbling to have fans, knowing that they want to read my work. I feel honoured, but I also think I earned that respect by entertaining people, touching their hearts and letting them escape into my reality from time to time. While I take reviewing seriously, my motivation has always been to help each writer reach their own potential. I've spent a lot of time with 'hidden gems' and read the top authors for my personal pleasure. Very rarely can I offer any suggestions, and I don't expect to do so when I hunker down for a dose of entertainment. I still acknowledge their work. I like to read.


I'll offer no apologies for taking my share of contest wins. If you recognize my 'voice' and vote for me because I'm Spiritual Echo, I accept with grace and appreciation. I do hope the story always merits your vote.






Recognized


This is a business, not a club. It irritates me when people threaten to run to Tom--I suspect there are at least six of those sy-ops, all coincidentally named Tom.

Fair doesn't come into play, I'm very certain that the owners' mantra is profitability.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.


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