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Please Like Me!

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.

After my initial attempts at editing, though, I entered it in two more contests: The Rebecca and the Indiana Golden Opportunity. What can I say? It turns out that I’m a contest junkie.

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!

The Just Chronicles

I recently finished my very first novel. Like most aspiring writers, I think, I was so relieved to have completed this project that had been a dream of mine since forever. So I ignored the standard “put it in a drawer” advice and started editing right away. And like all people who ignore good advice, I was disappointed in completely predictable ways.

Namely, my manuscript — my beautiful manuscript that took five months and hours without number to write — was riddled with errors. Errors big and errors small. Characters who changed names over the course of the book. Pacing problems. Plot holes. And typos — oh the typos.

The most notable problem, however, was my over-use of one little word: just.

As I worked on my revisions, I realized how many things “just” can mean: only, merely, right now, fair/right, actually. And that’s not even counting its use as a filler word or general intensifier. It’s a useful word, but not to use on every page.

Once I fixed my “just” problem, I did manage to put that first manuscript in a drawer. Oh, I sent it to some contests and beta readers too. I couldn’t resist. But now I’ve moved onto something that makes me even more excited. But also nervous, just a little bit.