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Old 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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Old 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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Old 05-30-2018, 09:12 PM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is offline
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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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Old 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).

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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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Old 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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Old 05-31-2018, 12:01 PM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is offline
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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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Old 05-31-2018, 11:00 PM
Max Goodman Max Goodman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Slater View Post
for some reason the winners are called "Losers.".
Pat at the Post tends to print a first-place winner, second-through-fourth(?)-place finishers, and a bunch of others. I think the joke is that since most of the inking entries weren't first placers, they lost, making their writers losers (and ensuring that, in most cases, even this week's winner is a regular loser).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Slater View Post
I don't think the star players are motivated by a spirit of competition.
I'd be surprised if the spirit of friendly competition wasn't among the motivating factors for many competitors. Some might consider it bad taste or uncollegial to admit it.
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Old 06-01-2018, 02:52 AM
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Ann Drysdale Ann Drysdale is online now
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For me it's like whittling bits of wood. If I don't see potential in the sawn-off lump they hand me - Lucy, Tessa or whoever - I lay it quietly aside and wait for a better beginning.

I am ridiculously pleased when I am sitting here among the chippings holding as perfect a piece of treen as I can create. That's the high point. Winning, as I occasionally do, is a bonus and helps with the "street cred" no end.

Copies of the Chambers Biographical Dictionary dotted about the house, some still shrink-wrapped, remind me that this, too shall pass.
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Old 06-01-2018, 08:43 PM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is offline
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Now I know the word "treen," so I'm glad we had this conversation.

The current first place prize in the Style Invitational is partial treen. A wood base with a "Lose Cannon" on top.
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Old 06-02-2018, 02:37 AM
Jerome Betts Jerome Betts is offline
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Ann, Roger needs a quick tweak on
The Treens and the Mekon.
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