WRiTE CLUB 2019 - Path to the Podium

As we do every year at WRiTE CLUB, we asked our winner, Wendy Cross, to tell us what the experience was like for her. When we link back to this post in years to come, hopefully future contestants will be able to glean some insight from her words.  


I heard about WriteClub from a friend who suggested I enter. After reading about it, and learning the prize was admission to the 2020 DFW Writers Conference, I was in. Not having much experience with flash fiction, I decided to take an excerpt from the first chapter of a story I had finished and change it up a bit. I submitted it, and then the wait began.

When I saw my story posted, I was thrilled, but also nervous. The piece that was pitted against it was excellent, and one I would have voted for if circumstances were different. I spent a lot of time refreshing the page, reading comments, and tallying votes. Probably too much time. I was relieved and ecstatic when the voting closed and I had won.

When I saw the writers I was up against during the cage bout, my nerves were once again high—both pieces were excellent and deserving of a win. I told myself I wouldn’t track the votes since it piled on the stress, but I was still refreshing the page, reading the comments, and trying to keep a mental tally. When the voting closed, I knew it was close and was absolutely thrilled to see I had made it to the next round.

Now it was time to write a new piece for the playoffs. I decided to go with a story about a friendly, lonely ghost who was looking for a friend. However, as I worked on it, it quickly turned more creepy and sinister, and I had fun playing with the words and emotions and trying to get everything just right in 500 words.

When my piece went up and I read the competing story, I had a sinking feeling. I knew the first piece was going to win, there was so much to love about it. And win it did. At that time, I didn’t know the wildcard was the person with the most amount of votes amongst those of us who lost, so I thought I was out of the contest. It wasn’t until about two days before voting closed on the last set of entires that I learned I had the chance to be the wildcard. I started exploring ideas in case I was the wildcard and came up with the story of an English-style hunt not being what it appeared.

During the semi-finals, I was up against one of my favorite authors whose pieces were exceptional. I spent more time than I’d like to admit refreshing the page and looking at votes. My opponent’s piece was as great as I expected it to be, and it looked like it would be close. When I did win, I was surprised, happy, and, to be completely honest, had some feelings of dread because I was up against the same writer I’d lost to in the playoff bout.

I had two story ideas in mind for the final round—one was creepy and twisty and the other was a comedic piece I’d been messing around with as a potential manuscript idea. I decided to take a risk and go with the comedic piece. When I read my opponent's story, I once again knew I was in trouble. Their story was beautiful and perfectly captured a snapshot of a teenage girl trying to learn who she was. When some of the comments came in regarding my story, my feelings of dread intensified—the piece was not received as well as I’d hoped. However, I decided to be proud of myself for making it as far as I did.

The day the winner was announced, I was in the mountains and my reception was spotty so checking twitter was useless. But on the drive home, my friend who suggested I enter called to let me know I was the winner. It was a fantastic moment because my kids were with me and we were all yelling and cheering. I still can’t believe I won.


I want to thank everyone who left feedback on each of my pieces—I read it all and took note of the things that worked, didn’t work, and areas where I could improve. Your thoughts are invaluable. I also want to thank DL and his wife for all they do to put on this contest. I know there’s a lot of time and effort involved, and it is greatly appreciated. I look forward to meeting some of you at next year’s conference!

We look forward to meeting you as well, Wendy. See you in Dallas!

6 comments

  1. You just never know what will appeal to people. You just have to write the best story you can and let it go.

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  2. Congrats again! Contests are subjective and that makes it fun :)

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  3. Congratulations, Wendy! All that stress and you did it.

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  4. You deserve it. The competition was strong.

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  5. Hi DL and Wendy - well done on putting the contest on and enabling all manner of writers to enter ... congratulations Wendy ... and I'm sure as DL mentions - people will over the years come back here to read your thoughts. All the best with your career ... cheers Hilary

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