Wednesday, 8 July 2015

[Blog] Participating in Viral Story contests: A Writer's Dilemma

I would like to think of my self as a fairly decent writer and just like everyone else in this planet, I am proud self respecting individual who rarely seeks help from others, but the participation in a Viral story contest changed all that. I saw some of my friends participating in a contest and I thought I would give it a shot. I saw it as a platform to show case my talent in storytelling.

 I wrote a story that I really liked - I took my time writing it 10 days in all with multiple revisions, but then again being a fastidious writer, this is nothing new. Then came the shocking realization that the contest wasn't about writing at all- it was all  about campaigning  and the hours I spent seeking votes grossly outnumbered the hours I spent in writing the story. 

I have had a very long and satisfying career as a teacher of English at the University and various institutions of learning like ICFAI in Hyderabad  and I have a reputation that I treasure deeply.
How naive of me to assume that I simply had to share the link to the story on Facebook and in a couple of mails and the thing would be in the bag!

In the initial impact a few of my steadfast friends did vote. But when I visited the website to check on the others I was in for a shock - almost everyone was way above me. I shared the link over and over on my face book page which had no impact after a while. I totally understand - Some people visit Facebook for a total of say 10 minutes and the last thing they want to do is to open a link, register themselves and read a story!
It could also be the case that people one is friends with don't particularly enjoy reading and resist attempts that thrust reading upon them!

I realized I had to step things up a bit and here is where the nightmare began.
I started to message a few friends- I felt small making personal requests like this but the wish to at least be in the reckoning egged me on.

People respond to messages in very different ways
a) Some  vote straight away - which is easy.
b) Some agree to vote and do nothing.
c) Some read the messages and don't even acknowledge it..
d) Some responded only after multiple follow up messages!
and
e) Some simply like the post in Facebook and stop there!


But this has been an interesting exercise -  from the changes to my personality, this little experiment throws up interesting takes on human behaviour.
My whole personality has undergone a change.  It had been a humbling experience for all the wrong reasons.  I am able to understand what sales jobs must feel like or worse still what a person who wishes to borrow money must feel like!

I later learnt that some people refrained from voting because they felt that such competitions are a sham. Other desisted because they were  uncomfortable about giving their personal details to an unknown site. Additionally I found out that there are a whole lot of websites out there that sell votes for a price. And I found that some of the other participants  had used these services and become the leaders in the race despite having stories with poor plots and atrocious language. And I wondered whether the Site actually benefited one bit from such sham votes?

A thought crosses my mind- 'Have I turned my friends into foes?' and this gives me the goose bumps.
If I have estranged some of my friends with my repeated entreaties for votes I should probably be apologizing.

So, let me get back to my writing and stay with it and leave these voter led competitions to the politically sound!

1 comment:

  1. Well expressed! Nevertheless, if I remember correctly, the editor points far outnumber any number of votes in the last Viral contest (Litagram) we participated in! Likewise for StoryMirror - so I guess you can continue sharing and hope readers, and especially critics don't stop caring. All the best and totally empathize with you - having learn my lesson the hard way myself!

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