Tuesday, July 8, 2014

So You Didn't Final

Imagine that moment when your hope is crushed. After you've checked your email approximately 1,752 times and finally realized that, no, you didn't final in that writing contest. 
What do you do now? 

Step One: Don't open the judges' comments until you're in a better place emotionally. As a woman, my emotions tend to roll over me like ocean waves. If I'm not meticulously careful, I'll let the things loose--not a good thing, my friends, not a good thing. 
Give yourself some time. Eat some buffalo dip (or whatever your favorite snack food happens to be). Watch the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice (if you have a few hours to spare). How can you possibly be mad after watching Mr. Darcy on screen?
When you're ready, open the comments. Remember that this is your story, but the judges could one day be your readers. They aren't critiquing to make you feel atrocious. 
No, they're trying to help.

Step Two: Revise. Fun, huh? Now you have new ideas to make your story better! Start typing and backspacing. It might sting (I changed the beginning of one of my novels more than a few times. It does sting.) Ultimately, however, revising means progress. You've worked out for a little while, exerted your muscles. You might be sore, but doesn't that achy feeling make you proud? Like you've accomplished something?

Step Three: Enter another contest. I recommend you check out Seekerville's monthly contest updates. Find one with an agent or editor judge that you want to see your work. Since contests do cost money, I don't recommend chasing after every one you see. Research. Then stick your entry out there to be reviewed.

The first time I received a call about a contest final, I was giddy. Was it possible that someone else liked my work??
Why yes, indeed it was. And that's amazing.
I do caution you not to rely on contests for validation though. You won't final in every one (well, you might...). Depend on God to reveal your next step. If He wants you to write, you will be able to write. Simple as that.

The journey to publication is incredibly similar to your walk with the Lord. Lean on Him. Be willing to learn. Wait on His timing.