Scared to Submit Your Work for VOTY? Don't Be!
I gots some thangs to say… forgive me if this just kinda tumbles out, I’m not in the mood to filter much today. Here we go:
Yesterday I listened to a heart whisper and submitted two pieces for BlogHer’s 2013 Voices of the Year; one visual, one written.
I submitted them because one of my words for this year is “pursue,” and when it comes to my writing and art, my intention this year is to pursue opportunities for them to be showcased. Why? Why the hell not? I write and paint for myself first and foremost and will always do so even if I have zero readers and the world thinks my art is a travesty.
BUT I’m also a storyteller who believes in the power of sharing your experiences with others. Writing and painting save me from the parts of myself that, thanks to illness, are hell-bent on destroying me -- and so does sharing about my life through the written word and visual art. Sharing my stories here and through paint are my way of giving back. I hope that at some point, what I share and convey in what I create helps someone on some level, in some area of life, be it motherhood, mental illness, abuse, or just life in general.
I also submitted because hey, who doesn’t like to connect with others and be heard? And who says it’s wrong to be proud of what you’ve created? What’s wrong with just going for it, JUST BECAUSE you never know what will become of it? YOLO! Am I right?
I said all of that to say that I didn’t submit my pieces because I think other people will find them moving and valuable, worthy of attention. I shared them because I FIND THEM VALUABLE, MOVING, AND WORTHY. Maybe if my piece on being bipolar and a mother is selected, another mom who was just diagnosed will find it and find some comfort, or find a way to contact me so she can find someone to talk to or ask questions. Maybe if my piece is selected people will stop believing people with an illness like bipolar disorder are incapable of being quality parents and raising healthy kids. But if I had decided to NOT submit that piece, then the chances of that happening are significantly reduced considering how “small” I am in the blogosphere. So I saw an opportunity to be an advocate, be a storyteller, honor MYSELF for owning my story, and took advantage of it. Like Nike, I just did it. Insecure, vulnerable, and all, dammit I sat my ass down, read through my stuff and submitted.
Maybe for you, it’s not about any of this. Maybe you just want your work to be heard, be seen, be validated, be recognized. Maybe you wrote some funny shit and you want others to recognize you’re the next Richard Pryor or Sarah Silverman. That’s OK. It really is. Go ahead -- submit! Honor your work. Pat yourself on the back, man. Be proud.
For those of you who are discouraged by this whole VOTY thing, hear me: STOP WAITING FOR OTHERS TO VALIDATE YOU AND YOUR WORK AND VALIDATE YOURSELF. STOP DRINKING THE DAMN VOTY KOOL-AID. I’m watching so many of you flog yourselves and doubt your self-worth and value as a blogger, writer, and fucking human being because no one is nominating your work. I get why it’s a downer, and trust me, I think the voting aspect of the process is asinine and I know that’s what’s discouraging so many of you from submitting. But I learned a couple of years ago that sometimes you can’t wait for others to celebrate and honor you; you’ve got to do it yourself. Fuck everyone else. THROW YOUR OWN DAMN PARTY. Stop waiting for an invite. NO ONE will take pride in you or what you’re putting out there if you don’t.
96 of the pieces that will be selected as VOTY honorees will be selected by the committee. Guess what? They are reading each and every piece submitted, whether it has 500 votes or 0. So even if you’re small potatoes like myself, your work will still be seen. Shouldn’t that matter more than some damn votes? Even if your piece isn’t selected, you never know who will become a fan of your work just because they were on the committee and read your piece. You don’t know what kind of opportunities could come out of this. And even if nothing comes out of it, shit, pour a drink and cheer yourself for having the balls to do something so many people wouldn’t.
I know when you’re a small fry in the blog/writing arena, it’s easy to get intimidated and feel left out because those with bigger platforms are being nominated, called out, read, and recognized -- and recognizing their own peers. But hear me: SMALL DOES NOT EQUAL INSIGNIFICANT and is in no way an indication of the value and worth of your work and your story.
So STOP DRINKING THE VOTY KOOL-AID. Submit something if it’s on your heart to do so. (Heart whispers are meant to be listened to.) Go find a favorite piece from someone you read and submit it to honor them; if they’re a fellow small fry, I can guarantee you it will make their day and probably encourage them to keep writing, sharing, owning their story.
So. What are you still doing here reading this? GO. Bye!