Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Colorado Gold Nugget by Terry Wright


This is my fifth year running the Colorado Gold Writing Contest for RMFW. It’s hard to believe that much time has gone by. Thinking back to the beginning, I recall how word had gotten out that I’d sold my auto repair business and retired, so Susan Smith and Jeanne Stein asked me if I’d take over for them. They’d been at it for five years, so I figured I could do the same stint.

First and foremost, I’m a businessman. My eye is always on the bottom line. Profit and loss. Red and black ink. Cost v expenses, time equals money. Buy low, sell high. When I saw the contest through my entrepreneurial eyes, utter disbelief overwhelmed me.

The sheer amount of paper the contest volunteers had to shuffle staggered me. The number of people it required to move all that paper, the amount of space it took to store, organize, and stack it, the cost of the materials, the printing, the packaging, the postage, and the hundreds of man-hours, oh my. I went into ‘bottom line’ sticker shock.

Susan and Jeanne helped me survive that first year. Afterwards, I looked at the numbers, put my business experience to the bottom line, and came up with a new plan. Electronic submissions. If other contests could do it, so could RMFW. I told the Board it would take a total revamp of our procedures and that I was willing to do the work needed to usher the Colorado Gold into the 21st Century. They gave me the go-ahead to devise a new, easier, and cheaper way to conduct the contest.

The next year we accepted paper and electronic submissions, a kind of weaning-off-paper process. The third year, we went all electronic. Expenses dropped by 67%. This allowed us to budget in more prize money and fund two new categories: Action/Thriller and YA. Not one penny was spent on paper supplies and printing.

The Colorado Gold is now leaner and keener.

Chris Devlin will be your Contest Chair next year. She’s a 25-year member of RMFW, and she’s judged the contest most every year for the last twenty. This year she’s helping me, learning the ropes, and she’s thrilled to be involved. Thank you, Chris, for stepping up. You're a Colorado Gold Nugget.

Contest opens April 1st. Go to www.rmfw.org/contest for all the details.

7 comments:

Chris Devlin said...

Terry,

Ah, the memories this brings back. Typing out contest critiques on a Brother typewriter, having the correct button break mid-way through. Couldn't have any typos in the document telling the contestant not to have any typos. Good times, good times.

Thanks for revamping the system and dragging us creakily into this century. And thanks for all your input and advice. I'm excited to be learning from a master and to try my hand at it next year.

Your Nugget,
Devlin

Patricia Stoltey said...

You've performed a great service with the contest, Terry, and I'm betting Chris will be an awesome in her new job. I spend a lot of time urging my unpublished writer friends to enter the Colorado Gold Contest each year. It's a wonderful opportunity for recognition and helpful feedback.

Julie Golden said...

Love your comment closing, Chris. (Your Nugget, Devlin)

Terry, thanks for your work to create the electronic Colorado Gold system.

I have great respect for people who are organized with their projects. It's one thing to be organized following the same old patterns, and quite another to visualize a more efficient and financially beneficial plan. RMFW is fortunate that you embrace logical change.

Susan Spann said...

Thanks for sharing the process, Terry. I think an electronic contest works great for the writers, too - fewer print and mailing costs all around is always a good thing.

fpdorchak said...

Way to not only throw in that Monkey wrench, but also torque it!

Daven Anderson said...

Thank you, Terry, for all your hard work (and great advice) over the past five years.

Also thanks to Chris Devlin for her invaluable insights regarding how stories are judged in these contests.

Chris Devlin said...

Julie and Daven,

So sorry, I just noticed your comments! Thanks for your thoughts and good luck with your writing.