In exams, it is common practice to like a poet/poem when asked to give an opinion about it because it is easier then disliking it. If I don't like something I don't want to say I do even if that gets me a better mark. But that's the thing. Surely getting a better mark is better than telling the truth? After all that mark is how you will eventually leave school and get a job and once you are out there it doesn't matter if you "lied" on the exam.
Writing for a market. I get how some writers write different genres and will write one for a women's magazine and another for an anthology. It makes sense. But say there is a competition hosted by a magazine. Do you write the genre the magazine publishes? Fine, you do. But if it really has little to do with the magazine? Like Take a Break's Young Fiction Writer of the Year Competition. Take a Break isn't about young writers. Take a Break also doesn't publish SF/F.
I entered a SF/F story to the competition for two reasons. One, it was one of the I had within the word count and two, I liked it. Better to enter something than nothing. I happen to know that last year's winners all wrote the same kind of stories (mainly), and that those stories were basically what Take a Break publishes. Yet I didn't write a story for the competition. Because that is not how I write. I can recognise and admire people who can and do write for a specific publication, but I prefer to write first and tailor after, instead of following a pattern from the beginning.
I believe I am an artist and as such, instead of making my art so it will be recognised I want people to recognise my art. Do you see the difference? And it seems to work, as long as I don't need to earn money from it.
P.S. I was happy to get in the post a few days ago a certificate from Take a Break. I got a special mention, which is sort of a short-list, below runner-up anyway which is what I got last year.
EDIT: Actually how it works is there is a first prize and two runners-up and then below that is the short-list (last year) and long-list (this year). I got confused by the absence of second and third place.