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Do you Have What it Takes?

After Placing First in a Vocal Challenge

By Harmony KentPublished 2 years ago Updated 2 years ago 4 min read
Do you Have What it Takes?
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Now that Vocal has opened up comments on Stories, anything we publish on the platform is open to both praise and criticism. When my story, Lifeboat Seven, won first place in the Ship of Dreams challenge, I was shocked silly. Seriously. I’ve been on Vocal almost a year, and this is the only time I’ve won anything like this. I’ve had a couple of top stories, and that’s it. Lifeboat Seven didn’t even earn Top Story status, and I believed I’d totally bombed out yet again. Then, one morning, I received an email from the Vocal team to tell me my story had been awarded first place. I’m still trying to fix my dropped jaw. I think I might need to wire it shut.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

The next thing to happen was a fellow author I know from the blogosphere commented to congratulate me, which was fantastic. As was her incredibly generous $5.00 tip! The very next person to comment commenced to tear my writing to pieces. This commenter didn’t seem to understand there are more ways of writing, punctuating, and spelling than only the American way.

My gut reaction was to close all comments. It took me a whole day to get over myself and re-open the comment facility, and I’m so pleased I did. So many of the Vocal community have been absolutely fantastic and have shared how my story and my win have inspired them to keep on going. And that is far better than any prize in my book. If I’ve inspired just one person to either start writing or continue writing, then I’m so happy. Because if I can do it, then so can you. Hang, on … that bears repeating.

If I can do it, then so can you.

Honestly, I’m nothing special. Like I say, I’ve bombed out enough times. For months, I just didn’t get why I kept failing.

Photo by Rakesh Shetty on Unsplash

Of course, it wasn’t failing, it simply wasn’t earning top story or winning a prize, and those are different beasts altogether. Today, a commenter told me that my writing made her feel like an amateur. This lovely person went on to tell me how great my writing is. The thing is, even though I’ve won a challenge, I still feel like an amateur. I have niggling doubts that I’m fated to be a ‘one-hit-wonder’, as they say. So, I can totally relate to her words. All I can do is take care about which thoughts I give energy to and which ones I guide, gently, down the stream and on their merry way.

Do I have what it takes? Only if you do too. All of us just have to keep trying (and so-called failing), and that’s all that matters. If you don’t try, you’ll never win. Hang on … another repetition coming!

If you don’t try, you’ll never win.

It helps to read widely, including the stories and pieces that Vocal members contribute—especially the top story and challenge winners and runners-up. But also the other contributions, because we can learn from everything and everyone.

Don’t let the haters get you down. It’s a funny thing that we humans tend to take more notice of the negatives than we do of the positives. We seem to be wired that way. Any praise you receive on your writing, make sure to read it over and again. Give a lot more attention to the positive critiques than you do to anything that drags you and your creativity down. I don’t know about you, but I do enough dragging down all on my own. I don’t need any especial help with that. Constantly, I have to be as vigilant for negative self-talk as I can be. Half the battle is spotting it in the first place. Once we see and recognise it for what it is, we have a chance to turn it around and put our finite energy elsewhere.

The lovely comment I mention inspired me to write this piece. And I want to thank that person for her honesty and generosity of spirit in taking the time to communicate with me. I hope that her thoughts, and my response, inspire you to write and submit your pieces to Vocal and other platforms. Try, and you’ve won already. Here’s wishing you much success and fun-filled writing.

Warmest Wishes



[Author Note: I hope you enjoyed this short piece. I'd love to hear what you think. Please be aware, I am a British English writer and follow British spelling, grammar, and punctuation conventions, which some non-British-English readers may not be used to. Please rest assured, these are not mistakes but simply a different way of doing things. Thanks so much for reading my submission and for all your support! All the best, Harmony :) ]

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About the Creator

Harmony Kent

The multi-genre author who gets write into your head

I began writing at 40 after a life-changing injury. An avid reader & writer, I love to review & support my fellow authors.

Find Me:


Story Empire

Amazon Author Page




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Comments (13)

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  • 𝐑𝐌 𝐒𝐭𝐨𝐜𝐤𝐭𝐨𝐧2 years ago

    Thank you for sharing these words of wisdom!

  • Michele Jones2 years ago

    You hit the nail on the head. Too many time we focus on the negative and let the positive slip by. You are not alone in struggling with self doubt. I know I do and it does take some stumbles to get back up.

  • Jan Sikes2 years ago

    This is truly inspiring, Harmony. We all suffer from the raven of self-doubt. But you are so right. We must keep trying and always work toward improvement. Thank you for sharing!

  • Joan Hall2 years ago

    So many can relate to what you've written today. Self-doubt is often our worst enemy. I can't believe the person that commented about your use of grammar and punctuation. I've been reading books written by UK authors since I was in my late teens. Yes, there are differences in spelling, grammar, and punctuation and it doesn't bother me as a reader. Apparently, the person who commented doesn't know that, nor did they read your author's note at the end. Keep writing and don't let the naysayers get you down.

  • Priscilla Bettis2 years ago

    Such encouraging words. Thank you, Harmony!

  • John W. Howell2 years ago

    An excellent collection of thoughts, Harmony. I for one consider you a pro and believe you have much to offer those who are fortunate enough to read your words. Sad that there are some so poorly educated that they have never been exposed to the UK English. They take grammar Nazism to a whole new level. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Gwen Plano2 years ago

    Thank you for sharing so deeply, Harmony. You are masterful in capturing truth -- with all its hard edges. For most of us, there is no greater critic than ourselves, and of course, no one can quiet that noisy voice, but the writer himself or herself. You inspire me in so many ways. 💗

  • Jacquie Biggar2 years ago

    Thanks for opening yourself up, Harmony. It's too easy to get down on oneself, and much harder to maintain a positive attitude. Posts like this let us know we aren't alone. Sending much love and good karma winging your way <3

  • D.L. Finn2 years ago

    A huge congrats on your deserved sucess, Harmony. A wonderful post and reminder to keep going xo

  • Beem Weeks2 years ago

    A wonderfully inspirational post, Harmony. We all carry those feelings of self-doubt. But seeing good things happen when we push forward makes it all worthwhile.

  • Staci Troilo2 years ago

    I recognize those feelings of self-doubt all too well. But you’re right; they serve no purpose. I just keep trying to improve. And that’s all we can ask of ourselves. Great message today. And again, congratulations on your win.

  • Trevor Jones2 years ago

    Well done and keep on keeping one. :)

  • Joe Patterson2 years ago

    I’ve been on vocal for about 3 months and have been following your stories. You are an amazing writer and I’ve recently been inspired by you to be a better more avid writer. Never stop writing and keep up your amazing work.

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