The Escape Pod semi-annual flash fiction contest ended yesterday.
Actually I both won and took fifth place out of 92 (we were allowed two entries), which was a weird combination of awesome and nail-biting horror for me. I was terrified I would place twice and feel like a total toolbag for making it so there were two published winners instead of the the regular three.
Some of my dearest friends have been perplexed by this reaction. Do I feel guilty about taking first place, they ask. No. Or, well, I do a little, but not enough that I'm not bouncing around like a loon for having got it. The prize is something I've wanted for years: publication on Escape Pod, which is the big bad granddaddy of the fiction podcasts. It's one of those magazines I want to be in because I read it (or in this case listen) and it blows my mind on a pretty routine basis (others include Drabblecast, Lightspeed, Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Shock Totem, Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, etc).
So, yes, I desperately wanted to win first place.
But first place is really enough, you know? Anything past that feels uncomfortably greedy.
I wrote the organizer before the finals went up and talked to him about taking the second story out of the running entirely. He talked me out of it, and I'm glad he did, but I still breathed a sigh of relief when that story was coming in a relatively distant fourth, and then got passed up on the last day to come in fifth. It was still a good showing, and it's way better than I showed in the previous competition, with one going into the semi-finals, and one making it to the quarter.
And, speaking of being greedy, this raises a big question.
There are also contests for Podcastle and Pseudopod, both of which I love and would love to be on.
Do I enter these, or do I take my win, bow out gracefully, and give somebody else a chance?
And if I do enter, do I risk entering two?