I'm reminded of the time I was in seventh grade, and our teacher asked us all to write stories and then read them aloud in front of the class for some kind of contest. A few days later, there was an assembly, and the winners of the story contest were announced. I wasn't among them. But other stories, in descending order, also got prizes. There was a whole box of prizes, mostly copies of a certain book, but a few other things as well, if I remember correctly, and I was hoping that I might at least get something. I didn't. Later, my teacher told me that he ran out of prizes just before he would have read my name.
I've written a lot of fanfiction over the last ten years, and almost every fandom comes up with some kind of competition eventually. There were lots of award shows going on over at TheForce.net early in this decade -- probably still are. And although I was nominated for various categories, I almost never won, unless there was little or no competition. The same thing happened in some of the short story competitions in the Robin Hood fandom these last few years. I always felt like my stories were technically good -- they just didn't win. There was always some other story that caught the readers' fancy instead -- they had that spark, apparently, and mine didn't.
I wonder how I can get that spark.