In the songwriter-education industry, there are lots of opportunities to get song feedback and critique, which I love and use. For the past couple of years, I've had access to an industry pro who's generally blunt, sometimes kinda caustic, and generally straight to the point from a commercial standpoint.
I loved it.
The first time she heard one of my songs, she hated it. So much. She thought that the verse was so long that she couldn't stand it (the chorus came in at about 45 seconds.) She wasn't rude or mean but she made it clear that the song was a little bit pathetic. I hate being treated like a beginner (it is, however, not The Worst Thing You Can Do to Me), and I was newer at this than I am now. I couldn't sleep that night and I felt raw and miserable from that kind of critical assessment. I can process all kinds of criticism and become grateful for it, but it's not pretty.
Sometimes you're the pearl, sometimes you're the swine.
This is my cute thing that I say when my song(s) don't do well. And boy did my songs tank in the Smoky Mountain Songwriters' Festival Competition. I entered a few, and the last time I checked they're as good as the ones last year, but not one made the finals. This, as it turns out, is not the end of the world.
Is it braggy to say that winning contests held me back in some ways? yeah probably. Contests were helpful to me when I needed confidence, but like David Wilcox says, "you can get what's second best but it's hard to get enough." ("Eye of the Hurricane" lyric). Apparently confidence is something I need to generate on my own, and I'm working on it. In the meantime, I get to actually have fun at the festival playing out and seeing my friends, and making new friends, instead of being in my own head about nailing the performance at the finals, and who's gonna win.