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  #1  
Unread 05-30-2018, 09:57 AM
Max Goodman Max Goodman is offline
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Default The Speccie, The Oldie, and Me

At the end of last year, I set the goal of being one of the top ten money winners in Spectator and Oldie comps during 2018. (I realize that for some of you here that is an unspeakably modest goal.) I've been looking forward to posting about it at the end of the year, but it's occurred to me that there's something cowardly about waiting, that I ought to share the goal before I know whether I'll meet it or not. Here's what I've learned so far:

* When a goal compares my performance to that of others, figuring out how I'm doing can require a lot of dreary bookkeeping. (Duh! This should have been obvious to me ahead of time.)

* The prose comps are better worth my time than I had thought. I've inked more often with prose than I expected to.

* Being immediately struck by a variety of ways to approach a comp isn't necessarily a good thing. Several of my favorite successful entries have been for comps that intially felt undoable.

* Money won is a particularly bad way for me to measure my comp success. The bonus fiver (which Lucy seems to be awarding less frequently) and the Chambers doorstop are nice bonus recognition, but being among a group of winners doesn't mean more to me when the prize is larger. (And the prize amount in the Speccie varies more than I had realized.) Counting wins or mentions would make more sense.

* I have an easier time meeting a weekly deadline than a monthly one. The Speccie deadline is regular enough that I've gotten into a pattern that helps me meet it. The Oldie's can sneak up on me and get missed.

So, how'm I doing so far (through Speccie 3049 and Oldie 228)? 6 wins (and 3 honorable menshes, which also please me--especially the one in which Lucy said my poem made her wince) for 145 pounds in winnings.

Am I on track to meet my goal? I don't know enough about other competitors' psuedonyms to be sure. If I credit all 2018 winnings to the names they're credited to in the Speccie and Oldie, and if I haven't made important errors in my spreadsheet, I'm number 9. (Yay!) But I know that our Brian competes also under a psuedonym, and when he's credited with those winnings, too, he knocks me down a spot. How many other pairs of names should have their winnings combined like that I don't know.

I'm having fun with this.
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  #2  
Unread 05-30-2018, 10:55 AM
Nigel Mace Nigel Mace is offline
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Will I be alone in thinking that all that is more Drill than Amusement?

For a start, I can't regard the comps. as compulsory. If the subject isn't fun in itself the Amusement's gone. Secondly, the Speccie is usually politically pointless territory - no anti-Tory/contra-May etc jests survive - unless its target happens to coincide with one's own political bette noir of the moment. Lastly, what, cash aside, is the point of writing to please comp. setters, if that is not what amuses the writer.

I grin when I win (only 3 times including my first ever entry) and am mildly chuffed by the odd hon. mensh. - but I get much more Amusement by reading the many splendid efforts of which we are lucky to be readers ahead of time.

But, hey, Max whatever's fun for you!
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  #3  
Unread 05-30-2018, 09:12 PM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is online now
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The Washington Post Style Invitational compiles statistics on all the winners. Actually, it's not official but is done voluntarily by one of the people who has entered for the last twenty years. You can look up literally thousands of people who have entered and find out how they did. Here. They also have yearly statistics and award titles. I was "Loser of the Year" and "Rookie of the Year" a few years back, though overall I am not near the top of the standings with my 204 inks (compared with the champion, Chris Doyle, who has over 2000 inks and back in the days of the New York magazine competition had a similarly ridiculous record of success).

I've never approached the British contests the same way, however. I just enter when I like the prompt the contest provides. Over the last decade or so, I think I've won around 25 times, placing me way outside the top ten.
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Unread 05-31-2018, 10:43 AM
Max Goodman Max Goodman is offline
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Thanks for chiming in, guys. I may return to more sporadic competition myself come January, but I'll almost certainly be slower than I used to be to decide a given comp doesn't interest me.

Doyle is very talented, and a nice guy, too. I've interacted with him online elsewhere, and he gave me permission to use one of his limericks in an article I wrote for Light (though, looking now, I'm surprised to see that his poem got cut when the article was shortened).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Slater View Post
The Washington Post Style Invitational compiles statistics on all the winners.
And I think the New Statesman used to print an annual ranking. I didn't invent this lunacy.
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  #5  
Unread 05-31-2018, 11:29 AM
Sylvia Fairley Sylvia Fairley is offline
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Oh dear. Is making competitions ultra-competitive an American thing? (hence the Washington Post list.) I like to think that us competitors in Old Blighty do the comps for fun. I haven't done one for weeks, because I didn't like the subjects, so I'm with Nigel on this one.
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  #6  
Unread 05-31-2018, 12:01 PM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is online now
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Ann, the Washington Post doesn't give monetary prizes like the British contests do. You get either a cheap and generally tasteless gag gift (I once won a toilet paper dispenser that emits Donald Trump quotes when the spindle rotates) or, in most cases, a refrigerator magnet (my refrigerator is non-magnetic, alas). That leaves only the "glory" of winning, and for some reason the winners are called "Losers." I don't think the star players are motivated by a spirit of competition. They keep entering because they find it fun. And quite a few people who enter the contest also hang out in a jovial private group on Facebook wherein they make bad puns and argue about grammar and punctuation, all in a friendly and supportive way.
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  #7  
Unread 06-03-2018, 04:32 PM
Chris O'Carroll Chris O'Carroll is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Max Goodman View Post
And I think the New Statesman used to print an annual ranking. I didn't invent this lunacy.
You're right about that, Max. Early in the year, the NS would publish a list of the previous year's top 20 winners. The editor once told me that it was fine to submit pseudonymous entries, but my ranking for the year would be based only on wins under my own name. Weeks when I sent in more than one winning entry and thus appeared under more than one name were relatively rare, so I doubt that rule did me much harm. Basil Ransome-Davies, I believe, has been doing double entries every week (or every month) for a long time, so his one nom (well, the only one I'm aware of) has seen a lot more action than any of my half dozen or so. He might be the only frequent flyer seriously skewing your stats. I've had only one pseudonymous win so far this year (in comp #3037, I was also Francis Harry), I'm pretty sure Brian Allgar has had at least one, and without even looking up the exact numbers I say with confidence that Bazza has outstripped both of us. It was not unusual for him to appear twice on the Top 20 list, so he might well account for two of your Top 10 names.

Best of luck for your continuing success in the second half of 2018.

Last edited by Chris O'Carroll; 06-04-2018 at 01:56 PM.
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  #8  
Unread 06-03-2018, 05:13 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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Max,

If you're only entering one entry per comp then I'd say generate a ranking on names, not pseudonyms. The playing field isn't level if you're sending in one entry and someone else is sending in three or four.

Matt
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