I'm indebted to Kate in my Friday morning class for that insight (and she tells me she got it from someone else). I think it is important to remember that luck has a lot to do with winning competitions or publishing contracts.
Our responsibility as writers is to do the best work we possibly can and then go away, walk the dog, have a drink, cook the dinner and revise it some more; it's our job to be different and original and exciting and when we are marching along the same route as other writers to do it in such a way as though it seems like the very first footfall.
But when we do submitt it is chance that dicates whether it drops onto the right editor's desk at the right time or it appeals to a particular judge's very subjective view of the world....
A lot of writing careers have been launched by competitions - not by the winning of them or even the taking part, but because they provide a focus and a deadline.
The worst thing you can say to a writer is that you can write about anything you like, for as long as you like and it doesn't matter when you finish...(Well, perhaps not the worst. 'Your writing is bland drivel' is probably higher up the list.)
PS Sorry that the last post appears to be shouting at you. I have no idea why it is in caps when it is sober and well-mannered lower case on my screen. I wrestled with it for awhile but I decided that it was such an interesting competition that it was better to post in A VERY LOUD VOICE than keep the news to myself.