Still More Contest Updates

I didn’t final in the 2012 Indiana Golden Opportunity but the comments I received on Together is Enough are so ridiculously helpful that I can’t find it in myself to feel anything other than excited. One of the judges actually liked it quite a bit. The other thought it was promising but very rough. Both provided incredibly constructive notes on both the manuscript — the first 50 pages of it! — and on the scoresheets.

As I’ve said before, it’s difficult to feel anything other than happy about the feedback I’ve received: I haven’t been writing for very long, I sent the manuscript out for contests before it was ready for primetime, and I entered contests without any real hope of finaling. I was primarily interested in (anonymous) feedback and thus I achieved my objective.

Between the judges’ comments and the feedback I’ve received from friends, I actually know what to do now to make Together is Enough better. Yay! Now I have to find the time to do it, which will be difficult because I haven’t done any real writing on my in-progress manuscripts in about a month because of dissertation work and family commitments. (Yikes.)

The only real question is what to do with with Together is Enough once I’ve revised it. I do want to resubmit to the editor from the Golden Claddagh. Beyond that, to Golden Heart or not to Golden Heart, that is the question.

Because you don’t get in-depth feedback from the Golden Heart, just numbers, there’s no real upside if you don’t final. On the incredibly off chance that you do final, however, it’s the sort of thing that can have a real impact on your career. Much more so than any other contest.

On the flip side, it’s an expensive contest and I would have to join RWA. (I’d been planning to do so, but had thought I might put it off until next year, when I hope to have three manuscripts completed and plan to begin querying agents.)

While I have a better idea about how to revise Together is Enough, part of me still feels like it’s a very personal, very limited project. Brave in Heart and The Easy Part have benefited from what I’ve learned from the process of completing a manuscript, they’re more commercial, and I think they may be better. They’re also unfinished and no one else has seen them at all. They’re definitely not Golden Heart-ready.

Decisions, decisions, decisions.

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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!