Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Reflections: 10 things I learnt from the Seunwrites #endthestory Contest


I recently entered into a short story competition which ended a couple of minutes ago (I am posting this 200 minutes after). The competition had a twist to it. Okay, let me tell you about it. It is a short story contest. The intention of the organizer was to #endthestory he had initially started. The story is titled "The Sex life of a Lagos mad woman". Sincerely, I really can't be bothered if you don't know where Lagos is. Google it. So, as I was saying, the winning entrant ought to get a Blackberry Playbook (not that I can't afford it eh-squeeze-me) and might be considered for a publishing contract (the juicy part) and some other mede-mede (additional benefits). 
Anyhow, the rule stated that we should type in Times Roman Font, blah-blah-blah (the technicalities will bore you) and write a convincing end to the story that would not be more than 500 words. So, I wrote something that I felt would do justice to #endthestory. You can read it here "entry 17".

The twist about the contest was that you needed to get as much votes as you could to get to the top 10. Nice concept or good thinking as that is some sweet profiling for the coordinator and smooth traffic (smiles) as well as an opportunity to push your story out. Then, after getting to the top 10, you can then go through the judging process(fair, as I presume) to emerge among the top three. Great stuff. The voting process has come and gone and the results out. Guess what? I know you already know. I didn't make it to the top ten. I must have stood on number 12 or 13 from my own deductions. You can check the voting results here.

The 11th person would have been Ariyike Akinbobola, a fantastic writer also, her entry is here with 75 votes. Followed by Ugwu Allen with 69 votes and then myself with 66 votes.

So, the question is: How do you feel about it pretender? Stop sounding all nicey!
Hahahahaha! I feel great. I do not feel any form of regrets or disappointment. You know why? I learnt #10 important things from the contest.

1. Keep Pushing: See! I would have just written like some other people and given in to luck or hope to help me make a few clicks. But no, I didn't. I kept promoting on my blackberry (my pin 235AF7D1. It's public domain. Nothing is really private nowadays), my Facebook, Twitter accounts and Pinterest (talk of a social networking strategist)

2. Talent is never enough: See! I worked with a boss called Olakunle Soriyan who always emphasizes on Doing The Needful. It is not enough to be a good writer. If you can't promote your skills and you're waiting for people to promote them for you then you're on a long thing (Ask D'Banj). The bible records that the people that were given the talents went out (that is marketing in today's world).


3. Know your numbers: Do you really know your numbers. Come on! A lot of us want to start businesses and we begin to calculate that there are 6 or 7 billion people on the earth, 160 million Nigerians blah-blah-blah. Oh really? I had 66 votes. Let me tell you my deductions from my network. I have 1948 followers on Twitter. Over 2000 Facebook friends and over 300 people on Blackberry. My story was shared over 100 times, let's say by about 60 people (based on the voting result- polldaddy will not lie na). If one person that shared my story had 10 friends, that means a potential 600 must have read my story (let's ignore that I have 2000+ friends). Ok. Let me save us the maths. It didn't work like that. Some people came and didn't vote. Some voted and didn't share. Some shared and didn't vote and some even came to vote down (The heart of man is desperately wicked). How many people really voted? 66. How many people will really support your foundation, buy your goods, use your services? It is the realistic number. When you know the realistic number, you will know how to put in more efforts and strategize better.

4. Never be too proud to ask for help: Come on! Who are you yet? Have you won a nobel prize? Ngwanu? Ok. Sorry Omo Baba Olowo no vex. Everyone needs help at one point or the other. Ask for it. Nobody is psychic enough to know your needs. You need to ask for assistance when you need it. Businesses, everyone  needs help even eagles need a push to soar. I asked a lot of peeps to vote for me or share my story and they did. Gracias. To be 13th out of 80 entries in terms of votes no be small work. I could have tried harder though.

5. Look beyond what you see: Truth is that at a certain point in the voting process. I was losing hope. You know why. I went through almost all the entries regularly and noticed people had over 200 tweets while I just had 40.  I went through the lists and discovered that about 14 people had more shares than I had. This was partly because you couldn't count your votes, hence I could only draw inferences from the number of shares. Anyway, the long and short is that some people had over 250 shares on the social networks and didn't come out with up to 30 votes. Ridiculous shey! Some people that had less than 50 shares had more than  70 votes. So it wasn't a game of numbers, it was a game of value. Pastor Kunle Soriyan would say, if all you see is all your think there is to see then you're blind. Gbam!

6. Learn how to negotiate: Look! Some of the top 10 stories may not really be the best stories but who cares? Life gives you what you negotiate not what you deserve. I read many fantastic stories that didn't even make it to the top 50. Yeah. The top ten people were dogged, resilient and tactful. Yep.

7. Build your network: Hello. How many times have you heard that your network is your networth. Ehen! So you think say na cliche? My friends it's true. I could only have gotten as much votes as I did because I had wonderful people in my network (I can't mention names but you know yourselves). I'm grateful. Thanks for supporting me.

8. Relationships are everything: Forget attitude (I didn't mean that though). Ms. Hermit, I don't like talking to this person or that. I prefer to keep to myself. Blah Blah Blah. Let's see how far you can go with that attitude. Relationships are key. The reason why a lot of people are in search of jobs for too long is because they lack relationship skills. Most of the top ten winners have wonderful relationships with people (even if it is social network-based). A lot of people know and are ready to support them. See, it is not enough to have 2000 friends on Facebook like me and relate with only one or two or none regularly, you should check up on people and find how they are doing. These people will help you someday.

9. Competitions are games: 
Now that a part of the game is over, what do you want to do? Take a noose and kill yourself? You want to hide in shame? Truth is people don't remember when you lose. If you doubt ask someone the last match that Nigeria lost. Our minds are wired to celebrate and record victories not losses. No one does. If you want to remain in the faces or minds of people, strive to win, win, and win again. This contest was to test me and see how I fared against people and trust me my entry didn't do badly. There is always room for improvement for any writer/author. If you don't win keep trying till you make it. It's pretty simple. And  it's just a game, quit hating and don’t take life too seriously.

10. Get out: I said don't take life too seriously so I don't expect that you will be offended right now. What I mean is go out there, get out. The best way to build confidence in yourself and in the people's confidence in you is to create a track record. How do you create a track record? As a writer or blogger or whatever you do, get known. Publicize your art. Let people know what you do. A lot of people didn't know that I am a writer of short stories till I started urging (begging) them to vote for me. They were shocked. I was shocked that they didn't know but the truth maybe I never really promoted my works. And the truth really is that I have never promoted any of my works as much I did for this #endthestory competition (because a prize was attached). 

To round off my nonsense-talk, what did I gain from the competition? Everything. What did I lose? Nothing.


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8 comments:

  1. This is great write-up, I love it....

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  2. Nice. I'm just wondering, how were you able to check your number of votes even though you didn't well, make it. I'd like to know mine too.

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    Replies
    1. Mr. Adrian, it's there under your entry.

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  3. Great piece! Why you know send me your story na? I for add to your vote :D Guess, you don't know me until now. Keep up the good work. Cheers.

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