Acting, Art, & Writing Contests . . . Philosophy 101

Actress Dame Judi Dench says in her memoir,  and furthermore:

“Deep down, I suppose I don’t really approve of the awards business, even when I have won them, because you can’t really award prizes for acting.  That is not to say that when I have won awards I haven’t been absolutely thrilled – – I have – – but I suspect deep down that it is something that goes a bit against the grain.  Acting is such a personal, imperfect kind of art.” 

As I read those words, I remembered how I felt about writing contests before I began judging contests.   And I admit, each time a submission doesn’t win, I feel a twinge.  How will that person feel about writing after not winning this contest?  Will she or he be inspired to learn more, try harder and take workshops?  Or will he or she say, “Forget it!  I tried.  I quit. ”

1.  Judging art is so subjective.   One person’s favorite piece might not be another’s.  How many times have you read a book or seen a movie, critically acclaimed, and you thought, “Huh?  Not for me.”  Or the reverse . . . the reviewers hated it and you loved it! 

2.  As artists, actors and writers, we’re capable of a wide range quality in our  work.   I’ve written lousy (suitable only for lining a bird-cage) to fairly decent, and some of those have received publication and good reviews.   I think we’re able to create good work given enough time, effort, craft and passion.

3.  Keep on keeping on.  Make sure the awards and contests don’t get you down, and don’t let success make your head so big you can’t get in the front door.  I’ve seen both happen.  Some have gone on to publication or Hollywood stardom  only to turn their backs on everyone they knew before their triumph.  

Others go on to share their knowledge with others.  (Many thanks if you are one of these.) 

And then some give up at the slightest bit of critique, loss of an award, or tiny bit of judgement.  If this is you, then you either need to toughen up, or you’re meant to choose another career or passion.   Or create art for yourself, and never share it with another human being. 

For the rest of us who do,  creating any art is a risk.  Placing it up for critique or entering a contest is even a larger and bolder step.  Congratulations if you’ve done this!  Know that these should only help you with your knowledge, bravery and art.   Good luck!


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