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Lottery Tickets vs. Writing Contests

2 July 2010

Image by qnr-away on Flickr

Recently I began a bad habit: buying lottery tickets. For a few weeks, I’d buy 2 or 3 scratchies a week, totaling between $6 and $20. Twice I won $4, and used it to buy another ticket. Any idiot can see where this would lead me.

So then I cut myself off. I told myself I could buy one real lottery ticket a month–one that has numbers on ping-pong balls and is read off on television each night at 7:00 PM and that, if I won, would net me at least as much as the ticket cost to buy. They’re not as exciting as scratchies, which are designed to make you want more. Most of mine were only one scratch away from being big winners.

Then I got to thinking…

If I was happy spending $10 a week (on average) on lottery tickets, which I know from experience don’t give me much satisfaction, why do I continually say no to entering poetry contests with entry fees? It’s not because I don’t want my poetry to be published–I do. It’s not because I don’t believe in entering poetry contests–I do. It’s a great way of gaining ground in the literary world. I think it’s because I secretly believe that if I don’t win, that money was wasted.

What was I thinking??? How many times have I bought scratchies and not won? Here I am wasting money on something far less likely to bring me joy than entering poetry contests. True, I may not win the contest, but at least my money is supporting literature. Instead of buying lottery tickets, I should enter a poetry contest each month. If nothing else, it will keep me producing work and getting it out there.

And here is a database of writing contests to get me started.

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