Very often, writing is a thankless task. Hours slogging away at words that people may or may not like, that sometimes don’t even make any sense. Once you’ve made all the edits you can stand to make, you submit your words to the gatekeepers of the publishing world–editors and agents who judge you, your writing style, your ‘voice,’ your marketability. Sometimes they like your words enough to request more of them. Sometimes–far more often than not–they say, “thanks but no thanks.” Every once in awhile, though, you get that ‘yes,’ or at least that ‘maybe,’ that gives you the boost you need to write more words.
In the romance world–and I do think this is more true in romance than in other genres–writers enter contests. Contests are easy, and fairly painless, ways to put your work in front of readers. You can test the waters for a new manuscript, try out new subgenres, take a chance on getting your book in front of the wonderful editors and agents who serve as final judges. Worst case scenario, you receive mediocre (or downright awful) scores, hopefully accompanied by constructive feedback and thoughts on what isn’t working in your manuscript and how to fix it. Best case scenario, you final, and your words are read, and maybe even bought, by those final judges.
Over the last year or so, I’ve been working on words I absolutely adore. I’ve been submitting them to agents and editors, and have received mixed but overall encouraging feedback. I took some of the feedback to heart, made some significant revisions (namely lopping off the first three chapters–ouch), and submitted the book to a contest to see what people thought. And just when I was beginning to think it was all a waste of time, this week I received the email telling me I was a finalist. I was literally dancing and fist-pumping around the kitchen while my husband looked at me as if I were a lunatic.
Although I have the greatest respect and admiration for the folks who put on and judge contests–it is an INSANE amount of work, and even less (more?) thankless than writing–the contest itself is not really the point. What finaling in a contest represents is validation: I don’t suck as a writer, and people like my stories, enjoy the tales I have to tell. And all of us–writers and non-writers alike–need to know that what we feel passionate about matters.
So all of that is my weird way of announcing that I am so pleased and proud to be named a finalist in the historical category of the 2017 Pages from the Heart Contest for my manuscript, Buying Max.
Those of you who are new writers, and even those of you who’ve been weaving words for awhile, consider entering a contest. You might just get the validation you crave–YOU are fabulous, and so is your story–just when you need it the most.