Happy Friday Creatives! I hope you all have a great weekend and a happy Mother’s Day. Thanks to each and every one of my followers for your continued support at the blogs. Let me state for the record~ “y’all totally rock!” So, let’s not waste any more time chit-chatting.
Welcome to Part II of my two-part interview series with Publisher and CEO, Andre West.
Andre, Please share your vision for Dreamquestone from its inception to now.
First of all, I’ve always dreamt of doing great things in life, Clara. I created, founded and established the Dream Quest One Poetry & Writing Contest. This unique dual poetry and writing competition went ‘live’ online, on March 17, 2005. There were several ideas that went into play upon my choosing the name Dream Quest One. Upon checking for internet domains, I found that I couldn’t use Dream Quest, for it was already taken. Therefore, I choose the next best domain for me, http://www.dreamquestone.com . My mission is to inspire, motivate and encourage anyone having the desire or love for poetry and writing, to continue doing so without fear of failure or success. The Dream Quest One Poetry & Writing Contest is semi-annual. It has closing deadlines in the summer and winter, each year. We are now in our 11th year of this successful mission. Visit the website for details on how to enter at http://www.dreamquestone.com/rules.html . In the near future, I want to offer more valuable content, which is helpful to the constantly changing world of writing and publishing. I have the foresight to see additional contest categories, increasing monetary awards, and no entry fees. Also, I am looking forward to seeing Dare to Dream being published in hard copy print magazine, someday. In addition to writing, I want to do my part in fighting against social problems such as neglect, child/spousal abuse, poverty, addictions, and education. This is my dream. I want to write a novel or two, which the world will enjoy reading until the end of time. That is also my dream. I want to reach out to millions of people in the process of reaching for my star. To fulfill these dreams is my quest. I remember a song titled, “The Impossible Dream,” lyrics by Joe Darian, from the 1972 musical film, Man of LaMancha. Ms. Crotty, my eighth-grade teacher, had our class learn and sing that song for graduation day. It is a beautiful piece of lyrical art, which will forever be one of my favorites.
I submitted a short story for competition many years ago, but I didn’t win. You did something in the rejection form letter that can be a motivating factor for many new creative’s trying to share their works, in hope of making a name for themselves or building a life through their writing. You told me that I was an “excellent” writer and although I didn’t win the contest, you wrote; “Don’t let the sun go down on your dream unless you choose to be a star.” That quote kept me from throwing myself a ‘pity party’ and kept me determined and persistent in my writing goals. So, thank you Andre West 🙂
How do you manage to take that “woe is me” attitude from people who might lose a writing or poetry competition and turn it into a positive? And since we’re on the topic, what‘s the best advice you can give to writers entering writing and poetry contests?
You’re welcome, Clara. I know there are many others like me. Having allowed negative thinking, criticism and fear of rejection to hold them back from becoming the poets & writers they truly are. There are writers and writers who need to know that dreams are not just for other people. Dreams are not just for people who have already “made it,” so to speak. Dreams are for you and me! The little people, having the courage to dream out loud, without fear of failure or success. I remember going on job interviews and not getting hired or called back for one reason or another. Sometimes I was told, they will keep my resume or application on file. Every time I didn’t get the interview or job, I became more confident to get even better at my presentation during interviews, and to appreciate my value as a person. I remember my mother telling me that, “Someone needs you in their workforce right now. You have to be persistent and keep striving for excellent until you get hired. Someone will be leaving a job today, someone will be quitting, someone will get fired, someone will expire, someone will be getting a promotion, and someone will retire. I know this isn’t about entering contests. It’s like a parable. I am trying to explain the dynamics of taking a “woe is me” attitude and turning it into a positive. Just always be true to yourself, let your hair down and never give up! Also, as Sinclair Lewis profoundly stated, “It is impossible to discourage the real writers – they don’t give a damn what you say, they’re going to write.”
The best advice I could give writers entering writing and poetry contests is to always be true to yourself. Put your heart, mind, and spirit into the body of your works. It gives life to it and creates an inner voice that may be heard and felt by the reader or audience. Your unique voice is powerful and sets you apart from all others. Many folks might believe that submitting their poems and stories near the contest deadline, will give them a better chance of winning. I suppose that one may think that judges do not read entries until after the deadline. On the contrary, the earlier you submit your poems or stories, the better chance it has to be read and thoroughly digested by the judges. The early entries may be given more benefit of doubt in how poems are interpreted and stories are perceived. Also, simultaneously, you might choose to send the same poems and stories to other competitions. If your entries are short listed or in case you win elsewhere, you may have time to withdraw it from another contest, and receive an entry fee refund. As more entries come in closer to the deadline, stories and poems are read more quickly. This is because most entries are received on the last day. Your story or poem may be hurriedly read, and more harshly criticized for any reason to be rejected.
Making mistakes in formatting your poems and stories according to the contest guidelines can cost you some points. If you are required to leave your name off your entries, use a certain font type, and font size, please do. Center your title, which should not be put in quotation marks, italicized or underlined. Make sure you use line spacing in compliance with contest rules. Don’t forget to use good grammar, spelling and punctuation. When a poem a story is presented in a professional looking manner, it can’t help being noticed and standing out from all others. Although there are more things you can do to improve your chances of winning a writing or poetry contest, those a just a few which may help, dramatically. Clara, you have my utmost gratitude for hosting me on your award-winning blog during National Poetry Month. I thank you for the opportunity to show my love, strengths, vision, and hope through your platform for writers, poets and dreamers like me.
My pleasure, Andre. Thanks for your time. I appreciate it!
Thank you for having me, Clara! You are a beautiful soul.
Here’s the current Summer 2016 competition information.
THE DREAM QUEST ONE POETRY & WRITING CONTEST is open to anyone who loves expressing innermost thoughts and feelings into the beautiful literary art of poetry and/or writing a story that is worth telling everyone! Guidelines: (1) Write a poem, thirty lines or fewer on any subject, form or style. And/or (2) Write short story, five pages maximum length, single or double line spacing, on any subject or theme, fiction, nonfiction, or creative nonfiction. Multiple and simultaneous entries are accepted. (www.dreamquestone.com)
Postmark deadline: August 17, 2016.
Prizes: Writing First Prize is $500; Second: $250; Third: $100. Poetry First Prize: $250; Second: $125; Third: $50. All contest winners works will be published online in the Dare to Dream pages, on October 9, 2016. Entry fees: $10 per story, $5 per poem. To send entries by mail: Include title of poem(s) or story(ies), name, address, phone#, email, brief biographical info. (Tell us a little about yourself) on the coversheet; add a self-addressed stamped envelope for entry confirmation. Fees payable to: “DREAMQUESTONE.COM”- Mail to: Dream Quest One Poetry & Writing Contest, P.O. Box 3141, Chicago, IL 60654. Visit http://www.dreamquestone.com for details on how to enter!
Brief bio: Andre L. West is creator, founder, and editor at the Dream Quest One Poetry & Writing Contest. He is a poet, a writer, and a dreamer from Chicago, IL. Andre’s mission through Dream Quest One, is to inspire, motivate, and encourage anyone having the desire or love for poetry and writing, to continue doing so without fear of failure or success.