Staying Ahead of the Wave
What my Vocal+ membership means to me, how I use it and why it's worth the splurge even when I lose.
Well, The Vocal Social Society (VSS) is thriving and Great Incantations has cast its spell: creators are writing and chatting together now more than ever. Perfect timing since the Vocal+ Fiction awards are sure to be a roller coaster event of epic emotions.
I talked about my love of Vocal challenges once before here:
"I've read some powerhouse talent submitting to these challenges, but at the end of the day, there are only three coveted spots in each challenge that offer a prize...It can be an overwhelming process at times. If you're new to Vocal, or new to writing in general—or perhaps even a seasoned veteran who's worn out—it's easy to get discouraged." -Call Me Les
At the time, we were about halfway through the SFS Challenges and some of us were struggling to cope with both the pressure of writing eight fiction entries and, to be blunt, the rejection of not winning with them. Now, to be fair, there was a lot of drama involved in those early challenge days (and I can only speak to some of it seeing as I joined just before Doomsday...eep!) But, it doesn't do any good to rehash events that have already been addressed. We have each worked very hard to get to a better place (on both ends of the computer) and I don't believe in negative gossip, just the positive stuff—like The Society Pages.
You don't have to be psychic to know history repeats itself. This time, I intend for us all to stay ahead of "The Wave".
Geoscience major here so bear with me.
Have you ever read that before a tsunamis the water retreats first? It's a sign of what's to come and yet many people are so dazzled by the effect they don't recognize the warning sign and thus take no precautions against the danger that will follow.
First comes the deep sea earthquake. In this case, the announcement of the V+FA. Then the rush of water (the stories) to the epicenter begins; at the critical point, the water turns direction (announcing of the winners) and finally, the tidal wave (the feeling of rejection) sweeps the shoreline (social media). Some of us will win. Most of us will lose. And "The Wave" will hit us all.
But I beg you to ask the bigger question: do we really ever "lose"?
Humans are good at holding simultaneous, contradictory emotions in our minds. Hoping for the best while expecting the worst is hardly a new concept and yet, when the worst comes to pass, we often forget we knew it was a possibility from the get-go. Money & glory are tempting; I won't argue it's not a motivating factor for me, too, and being in a book is the stuff of dreams. However, to navigate any competition successfully, we must each continue to hold the hope of winning close to our hearts, let it drive our creativity and sense of excitement while simultaneously accepting the plausibility that we will not win.
I know what many of you are thinking.
"Why do you care?!"
That's a two fold answer.
1. Again, without rehashing any drama, I recently found out exactly what it means to be on the receiving end of criticism for my moderation decisions. I've personally collaborated twice now with Vocal, once for my own spotlight and again for Tom Bradbury's. The actions Vocal took to address our grief over losing him will stay in my heart for a lifetime.
2. As a community of creators, we have done great things together. We lift each other up, inspire, encourage, peer review and quite simply, act like the family many of us don't have or used to have or are hoping to create one day. It's imperfect at times, like all families are, really, but still: we celebrate each other. The idea that something so good could tear us apart is terrifying, honestly, especially after all we've accomplished together of late.
I will always believe the world is a fundamentally good place, even with the pain and struggles and unfairness that occasionally dash my good spirits. As Samwise Gamgee says,
"There’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.” —The Two Towers
We have to fight NOW to put the two feelings of hope and acceptance into our hearts in order to make certain that, after these results come out, the tsunamis of repurposed rejection, which cloaks itself with anger and fear, does not hurt the innocent bystanders: the winners.
To whomever wins these 25 spots and 1000 runner up nods, you will continue to have a safe space in the Vocal Social Society.
To whomever feels hurt, upset and questions the decisions, you will continue to have a safe space in the Vocal Social Society.
And provided it's constructive, Great Incantations is a space to discuss all things related to Vocal challenges.
Lastly, to address the subtitle of this article, I keep my Vocal+ membership because of the fact that for less than the cost of Netflix, or lunch at Starbucks, or a pair of good flip flops, I get to enter unique writing challenges, which let me have fun with my friends. I'm so looking forward to reading as many entries as possible between now and the deadline, as well as polishing up my SFS entries and plunking those into the pool along with some fresh works.
Tell me your thoughts in VSS on how we can build up the idea of Vocal as a literary experience.
We are better together. Much love,
P.S. In case you missed it, this is the two part memorial document for Tom Bradbury written by his fellow creators and organized by myself for his family and friends. Proceeds will be put towards Tom's anthology.
You can message Les through the Vocal Creators Chronicle.
First published by Call Me Les on Vocal Media October 17, 2021