Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Biting the Bullet

Well, I've gone and done it. I submitted my most current WIP in a contest. I've bitten that bullet very, very hard! But I know I need some more feedback on that WIP, and hopefully I'll get more good than bad.

So this blog post is two-fold. First, do you think about submitting to contests? At all? Once in a while? I hadn't really thought about it that much, the main reason being I'm so new at this writing business and I still have a lot to learn. Then I told myself that I've already learned a lot.

I finally started paying attention to all those contests posts I send through to the chapter all the time. I found one that I thought would would be beneficial to me. It's the Missiouri Romance Writers Gateway to the Best. They guarantee three experienced judges will look at each entry, with the grand prize winner having her mss looked at and critiqued in full by a published author and the final judges being editors from major publishers like Avon, Grand Central, and Harlequin, as examples.

Now, though I do hold a smidgen of hope and confidence that I could win, I'm just darned happy to get the feedback from one or more of these judges. What a wealth of help that would be!

Of course, it's our own Sarah who got me thinking about entering contests at all. Her enthusiasm over her entries, even despite a rough and mean-spirited-like critique from one judge, was definitely catching. And when she shared her good news that she'd actually finaled, well, who could resist that??

So, Sarah, thanks for all that wonderful exuberance! You know we're all pulling for you!

Second, how do you feel about contests as a whole? Even if you've never entered your work in one, do you think they're worth the time and the money? Is that worth getting any feedback on your story? Is it worth maybe getting negative feedback?

And if you did get negative feedback, what then? If it's only one judge, pfffft to them and go on? If three judges for whatever reason give you feedback you'd hoped to never get, would that be enough for you to finally say well, I knew writing wasn't for me, so there's the end of that dream? Or would it just straighten your spine a little more and push you back to the drawing board?

Of course, the converse is worth talking about. What if??? What if you got wonderful feedback, they really liked your work, you need to do a little extra editing and revising and maybe you can win next time! What if you actually won this time around??? There's always the possibility, so why not take the chance?

Is it fear of what someone will say about your work that keeps you from entering a contest? It's a 50-50 toss-up on which way it could go. Have you been sitting on the fence for a while, trying to decide if you should enter?

I finally decided that I need to know. Know something at least. Whether I really have the knack and talent to write. Whether I'm going in the right direction with my story if I do have the knack. Do I have enough in my story, enough emotion, enough conflict, enough of a dark moment, enough whatever it takes to keep it going. I want to to know some or even all of that and whatever else the judges give me.

I've decided it's all worth the risk. How much risk are you willing to take?


  1. Congrats and good luck, Sandy!!

    Thanks for the kind words! ((hugs!))

    That first step is a doozy! I can remember how bad my heart was slamming when I hit the 'send' button on my first entry. Funny thing was, it did it again on the second contest. LOL It's gotta be a trend.

    Sending lots of good wishes your way, Sandy! LOL Now, you have to survive the worst part....the waiting!!!

  2. Lol, Sandy. Enthusiasm is contagious.

    I've entered two contests so far, the EPPIE, and Karin Tabke's first line contest. But I don't think you meant those kind. I think I will eventually when I have something done and geared towards a certain editor or agent. I think that's when they become invaluable. Feedback is also something you shouldn't sniff at. It's a good thing to get a new set of eyes over your work. Sometimes a CP is too close to the author to see what else the author needs to work on.

    And, good luck.

  3. Sounds like you have taken a big step in the right direction. Don't stop now. Good luck good thoughts your way.
    I entered a contest years ago and even though I recieved good feed back I was scared off of the process. New groups and new enthusiasm has me rethinking the opportunity.

  4. Good luck Sandy! I am proud of you for taking the step. It is very scary to put your work out there for criticism, no matter how you go about it.

    I kinda missed the boat on contests. I was totally clueless that such things existed until AFTER I got published! I got all my negative feedback from agents! LOL! Now that I am published I haven't given it too much thought. The few that have intrigued me for one reason or another are all for unpublished authors.

    Anyway, I suppose it all boils down to YOUR sense of self. Whether it is an agent or critique partner or reviewer or folks judging a contest, they are still just individual people with individual opinions. You must decide whether to take it or not. If they love your work - fabulous! It sure feels great to receive praise and in my experience you get as much of that as you do criticism. So treasure it. Then try - and I do mean "try" because it isn't easy - not to get depressed or full of doubt when the negativity comes. Remember who you are, what your voice is, what you are inspired to write, what you believe in, and then keep on writing.

    Keep us posted on how it goes.