Good evening my fellow Americans.–Oh wait, wrong speech.–Good evening my fellow LJ Idol community members. Last weekend, and the early part of last week, this great community exercised a fundamental privilege in our democracy: the chance to have your voices heard by going to the polls and casting your ballots to determine who should move on to the next round of this competition. The outcome of this election was not what I had hoped it would be. But the voters have spoken, and this week, I was the person to receive the fewest votes in my tribe.
While I had hoped to have the honor of writing a victory speech as an Lj Idol champion, I am not bitter about this defeat. After all, the reality is that in the end, only one person can hold this title. Between college responsibilities, holiday commitments and being in too much pain to read much after getting my wisdom teeth removed, I didn’t have the chance to read as many of the entries from other contestants as I would have liked. But the entries I did read were written fabulously, so I knew the competition was tough.
Also, although claiming this title would have been really cool, winning was not my primary objective when I wrote my declaration that I was competing in this competition back in October. In fact, since I am toward the younger end of the age range of LJ Idol contestants, and I have observed from past experience that the most eloquent, well-developed writing comes with age, wisdom and a larger bank of life experiences to draw from, I actually didn’t expect to last as long as I did. So my primary objectives when I decided to take part in this competition were to meet new people, to develop as a writer and to share my writing with a larger audience. Though my journey as a contestant in this competition was relatively short, it was as thrilling as I had dreamed it would be with the chance to realize all of these objectives.
Whenever I had a free moment, I had a blast meeting people by way of reading their journal entries, which were beautifully written, and sometimes shared aspects of their personal lives and glimpses in to their thoughts that they might never have been comfortable sharing in person. I also enjoyed meeting people through the comments people left on my entries, especially when people shared their own insights and perspectives about the thoughts I shared in my writing. I apologize that I often didn’t reply to them, but I read and appreciated them all.
I definitely developed as a writer through this competition as well. For one thing, I definitely identify myself as a writer, and as my english teacher this semester says, “writers have to write.” Yet before this competition, I often let the craziness of real life or a lack of motivation prevent me from meeting this need to write. But this competition forced me to develop discipline and set aside time to write which was a wonderful stress reliever, and thus something I am going to strive to continue despite being eliminated from the competition. But I think my writing itself has also been developed in that since many of the topics were vague with a lot of room for creativity, I have learned to think more creatively as a writer which I hope will show itself in this journal and maybe even real life.
But most exciting of all has been the validation I have gotten for my writing by a larger audience than just my family, friends and teachers. Before this competition, I loved writing but would often feel discouraged when I would pour my heart and soul in to an entry that never received comments. Family and friends have told me they enjoy my writing, but sometimes I would wonder if my writing was worth sharing with the larger world. Do family and friends just say they enjoy my writing because they are family and friends? Are people even reading my writing?
But since taking part in this competition, some of my entries have received 22 comments, a number I never imagined I would see on my blog, all from strangers, all of whom loved my pieces. I cannot think of another experience in my life that has boosted my confidence in myself as a writer for a larger audience than this overwhelming positive response from readers in this community.
I was also moved by the friendly spirit of this community when the polls closed and it was announced I had been eliminated. One friend even sent me some virtual flowers. Even though winning was only a secondary hope when I entered this competition, I was still a little stunned and disappointed that I had been eliminated, so this kind gesture really made my day.
Was there more I could have done to keep myself in the game? Maybe. Maybe I could have written entries that were more short and to the point. But long-winded writing is my style because I think a lot of detail and background really enriches a piece, and I would rather not win a competition than win it with writing that is not true to my style and principles. Maybe I could have indicated in the subject line or in the entry that my entries were for LJ Idol so that friends who didn’t know about this competition could have voted for me. Maybe I could have even provided the link for people to vote directly for me. (I don’t actually know how to do this since I am the kind of person who prefers to keep life simple by only learning the basic computer skills needed to get by in life. But I could have learned). But while the thoughts I shared in my entries were prompted to the forefront of my mind by the topics, I feared that if I explicitly stated which entries were for LJ Idol, readers unassociated with the competition would think I was just making up thoughts and views to suit the criteria of each particular topic. I wanted readers unaffiliated with the competition to see my writing as my original writing, not something I crafted for a competition. I know that sounds silly and irrational, and I didn’t think any less of people’s writing when they explicitly stated it was for the competition. I just didn’t want to reveal this in my own entries.
Finally, like everything in life, there is a silver lining to every disappointment, and my elimination from this competition is no exception. For one thing, it so happened that last Tuesday was my first day of second semester, which always seems to be more demanding than first semester, so I suppose it is a good thing that I was eliminated before school made life crazy and I had to make wrenching decisions like “do I need to drop out of the competition and focus on school, or make college grades my second priority?” Fortunately, my elimination means I won’t have to have this conflict with myself. But last week was also the perfect moment to be eliminated because it so happens that I haven’t a clue what I would have written about Icarus! We studied Greek gods briefly when I was in sixth grade, but since I never imagined I would be in a competition where Icarus was a topic, I didn’t pay much attention. Next week, I hope to start participating in the home game when school permits, but this week, I’m sure glad I don’t have to write on the topic!
So to close, I just want to say that although it may sound cliche, and although I ended another entry I wrote last summer with this quote, there is so much truth in it that I want to reference it again on this occasion. It really is not the destination but the journey that counts, and I am alright with the fact that I couldn’t make it to the destination of victory because the journey I got to take with this community was wonderful and unforgettable.
Feel free to friend me and continue following my entries if you are interested. I will continue to follow, cheer on and vote for contestants the rest of the season. I cannot wait to read the entry that clenches someone’s victory as this season’s LJ Idol because with all of the talent I have already seen early in the season, I know that the writer who wins this tough competition will be spectacular!
But writers beware. When it comes time to sign up for Season 8, by which time I will be a little older and wiser, with a slightly larger bank of life experiences to draw from, I’ll be back!