So once I finished that first manuscript, like that very instant, I proofread the first 30 pages. I walked away, I made some tea, and then I proofread them again. Then I submitted it in the Golden Claddagh.
Okay now, don’t laugh. I never claimed to be smart or insightful. Musings. Aspiring writer. Remember?
When I read back over my manuscript a few weeks later, it was clear what an enormous mistake that was. First because I missed errors and second because it simply wasn’t ready, at all.
Look, I have no illusions about winning. I feel my inadequacy deep in my bones. But I want some feedback, specifically from people who don’t know and therefore love me and from people who know a thing or two about the romance genre.
In retrospect, The Maggie might have been a better choice than The Rebecca because it provides more feedback but thems the breaks.
From my perspective, and I haven’t received any feedback yet so this the rosy side, contests can serve several functions. Prestige if you win. Important readers if you final. Impartial feedback. A vortex that consumes time and money. I have no illusions about the first two and I’d like to avoid the last. So for this calendar year, I think I’m done with contests. The Golden Heart isn’t for me this go round.*
I know that when I get tough reader’s reports, I’m going to feel a little differently. But you can’t learn from what you don’t do. So if you go into them with realistic expectations, I think — I hope — that contests can enrich an aspiring writer’s journey.
* Though I reserve the right to change my mind if I final in any of the three that I’ve entered. Hey, we all have those dreams!