Oh, I don't mean the "not winning" part. You win a few, you lose a few. But I think I paid for a critique, along with the story I entered. I LOVED that story. LOVED it. The judges liked little parts of it. The writing was beautiful, they said. But something was missing. Something rather integral to any short story: conflict.
What was that, grasshopper? How could a writer leave out the conflict? Easy. Sometimes, writers get carried away with the whole art of writing, creating images, capturing a moment and before you know it, the story ends...without any conflict ever being resolved.
I wish I could say I learned what not to do and have applied it ever since. But the truth is, I still get carried away with my writing once in awhile. So grasshopper, after you write that short story you absolutely love, sit back for a moment and ask yourself, "Where's the conflict?"
The conflict's the thing wherein I'll catch the Fame and Fortune. Which I intend to do with the next competition I enter (before May runs out!).