Once upon a time Annette entered a writing contest. She submitted the first three chapters of a book which had received RAVE reviews in her creative writing class – so much so that the professor encouraged her to get an agent ASAP. She carefully prepared her manuscript, dropped her most prized work to date in the mailbox and waited.
and waited….and waited….
Finally the envelope arrived. Now don’t get me wrong, I had no expectations of winning or even receiving honorable mention, however what I did expect was solid, constructive feedback and maybe just maybe I’d catch the eye of an editor or agent.
That’s not what I received.
Instead I received bland praise from two judges (a whole lotta nothing) and from another judge I received an ignorant rant on the fact that soybeans don’t grow in Illinois. I’m not even going to justify that with a comment here – if you’re curious Google it. Now my book wasn’t about soybeans and the tasty little buggers were mentioned once in a scene where a plane crashes in…yep you guessed it, a soybean field. Needless to say, I did not enter another writing contest – despite her critique partner’s amazing success with them which eventually led to selling not one but 4 manuscripts.
Ten years later….I’m surfing the net and come across the Golden Heart – along with the RITA it is the Romance Writer’s Association’s big annual contest. On a whim, I enter not one but two manuscripts into this contest however my expectations are different this time around.
This time I’m using the contests as inspired action, as motivation.
You see…one of the manuscripts entered has been sitting on my metaphorical desk getting dusty and the other wasn’t finished. Nothing like a pending deadline to kick a butt into gear.
So I did it. I finished the manuscript and got it into the proper hands, barely. What are my expectations? None. I expect nothing. I expect that I will get my manuscripts back at some point and that the judges will have made comments. I expect that I will probably read the comments, though maybe not.
So why did I enter them? Because nothing happens if you don’t take action and quite frankly I want to publish a novel. I’ve published short stories. I’ve ghostwritten non-fiction, but my intention is to publish many many novels and I know deep down in my gut that manuscripts which are allowed to get dusty don’t get published.
You have to take action!
You have to push yourself. You have to get uncomfortable and do things you may not feel quite brave enough to do. You have to enter contests, read comments from ignorant people and grin and bear bland praise. However, above all you have to take inspire action. I didn’t plan on entering the contest – I was inspired to do it and that my dear writing friends is when miracles happen – when you follow your inspiration, even if you don’t like what it’s telling you.
So…do you enter contests? Why or why not? What has been your experience with them? What inspired action have you taken lately?