“Do one thing every day that scares you.”
I stopped by and checked out Melia Alexander’s wonderful blog today. She was hosting a friend and fellow author, Jessa Slade. The subject was something near and dear to my own heart, The Golden Rose Contest.
Not only is this contest sponsored by my home chapter, Rose City Romance Writers, but it is one of the first contests I ever entered. If you have ever wondered if a contest is worth it then let me tell you my personal experience with this one.
Every time the contest was mentioned in our chapter meetings my heart would race. I had been waffling on whether I should take the plunge and enter my recently finished manuscript . I knew first-hand the quality and talent of the judges and the kind of thoughtful and insightful feedback I would receive. I also knew I would get an honest evaluation of my work. There’s the rub. Was I truly ready to hear any criticism of my baby? Even if the feedback was right on the mark? What if they hated it? What if I really couldn’t write a decent story?
I think there comes a time in every writer’s journey where we take a leap of faith and do something that scares the you-know-what out of us. This was it for me. I filled out the submission form, took a deep breath and hit send. And promptly freaked out!
Yes, we writers can be a neurotic lot 🙂
I am not kidding when I tell you waiting for the results can be a tad stressful. I did a lot of mental gymnastics talking to myself. No matter what, I declared, I would look at the feedback, consider it without emotion and then go back to work on it. Ha! Writing is all about emotion, we plumb the heights and depths every time we sit in front of our computer and put words on the page. So don’t kid yourself and think you won’t react strongly when your results come in. Just remember to breathe and give yourself permission to think about what comments were given. You will survive, I promise. More importantly you will have more of an idea on how to improve your work.
When I got the call telling me my manuscript was a finalist I was so surprised I wondered if there was a mistake. Truthfully, I don’t think I quite believed it until I got the scores back from the judges. Even as a finalist there was a lot work still to do on my manuscript. Weaknesses were pointed out through excellent feedback, along with areas I did well. I had a little time to look over the comments, make any changes I wanted and then the manuscript would be submitted to the final judges.
I didn’t win the ultimate prize – The Golden Rose, but I took first place in my category. The final judge said some lovely things about my chapters and I thought maybe, just maybe, I might be a real, honest-to-goodness writer!
The real prize in all of this – I had judges looking at my work and giving me the benefit of their experience as writers. I got feedback that helped me strengthen my story, a cross section of opinions that gave me a broader view of what another might see in my work and the knowledge that leaping off a cliff is not without risk, but the reward can be, well…the courage to take another step toward publication.
There are a lot of contest out there. Do a little research, find one that meets your needs and give it a shot. Take that leap. What have you got to lose?
Really great points, Kylie. Contests are wonderful for the feedback and for the opportunity to get your work in front of an agent or editor. Even though I’m published, I still enter the contests the allow published authors with uncontracted manuscripts. There’s plenty to learn from the scoresheets and comments no matter how experienced the writer is. 🙂
Hi Karen, I still have all the comments made on my work. They remind me of where I have been and what to watch for going forward.
Yes, contests can be tummy-churning, huh? Good for you for taking your writing to the next level — and look at you now!
I think that taking a leap of faith is awsome. I don’t have the talent to write a book myself but I admire those that do, & as an avid reader – thank you.
Thank you! I know every writer out there will appreciate your comment as a reader.
I think there is a lot about writing that can be tummy-churning 🙂 It really is all about taking the next step and learning all we can.
Exposing yourself in public IS nerve wracking! But we’re storytellers, so it’s what we do. Anyway, all that roiling angst is good grist for our writing 😉
Exactly! Every experience we have is just another way to tap into and write realistically about our characters. At least that is what I tell myself – LOL.
I remember the virtual ulcers I got when I entered my first contests. Eeek! One of the big eye-openers was how differently any given judge might interpret a scene. Comparing the (sometimes conflicting!) likes and dislikes of contest judges has helped me look at my work with a more critical eye.
That is the key, isn’t it? Looking at our own work and being able to see where we need to edit. Contests certainly help us pinpoint problem areas.