The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Big Girl Panties
I was going to write a blog post entitled “In Defense of the Scrunchy,” but there were two problems with that. First, I couldn’t decide if the singular was, indeed, scrunchy or, perhaps, scrunchie. Even more importantly, it would be a post to overlook what I really ought to be thinking about: Golden Heart and RITA calls. More specifically, not getting one.
If you are a nominee for the Golden Heart or the RITA, my heartfelt congratulations. I hope you float on air for the next week. No, the next month. No, may you float all the way to Nationals. Something about your work spoke to those judges—your peers—in a deep and visceral way, and I applaud you. You are awesome.
Now, go away. This post isn’t for you.
Okay, depressed ones, now I’m addressing you. You have a few options at this point: A) Declare the whole contest a fraud. You were ripped off. Those people just don’t understand your greatness. Or B) Grab a beer or some Ben and Jerry’s and shed a few tears. You really thought this was your year. You worked really, really hard on that entry and you could use a sign from someone, anyone that you aren’t wasting your time with this writing business. Or C) Put on your big girl panties and learn something from the experience. Get to revising. Find some new Beta readers who aren’t afraid to tell you what they really think—in a respectful and constructive way, of course.
I’ve been at this a while. I wrote my first novel, a historical romance that should never see the light of day, back in 1998. I joined Georgia Romance Writers in 2001 with the foolish thought that I could sell that manuscript. Then I wrote the requisite autobiographical sprawling piece of crap, birthed a kid, attempted a category romance, dropped out to teach, birthed another kid, got a degree, chased a trend and wrote a paranormal, and finally, finally wrote a novel that finaled in a couple of contests. Hell, it took all that just to find my voice. (The part where I wrote a book targeted to Harlequin that had a mortician as a hero should’ve been a clue that I was more of a southern fiction/quirky single title kind of gal, but I’m notoriously stubborn.)
So which option did I choose, you may ask? I chose C. I’ve already revised 25 pages today, and I plan to revise 25 more while Her Majesty is in ballet. The other advantage of having been writing for so long is that I knew my entry was a long shot. I knew it in my gut. It’s taken me a long time to trust that gut instinct, though. I think we all have these stories in our head and they play out so perfectly up there that sometimes we can’t see the disconnect between imagination and paper. That’s one of the reasons why we need critique partners. Without them, we’d go around telling people about their splinters even while we can’t get through the door for that log stuck in our eye.
So, if you didn’t get a call today, I’d like to think you’re in good company. Yes, there’s the very real possibility that your manuscript is ready to go and you just got a couple of judges who didn’t “get” you or who were having a bad day. More than likely, however, there’s still something not quite right about that manuscript. You can either fix it or scrap it and start something else, but option A does no one any good—all of the judges are volunteers so there’s no need to beat up on them. Option B might make you feel a little better, but it’s not going to help you out in the long run either. So, why don’t you join me over in option C? And may your revisions not be anywhere near as extensive as mine appear to be. (%$#@ dogs and horses and ^%$#@ beta heroes!)
Hey, there’s always next year.
All right fellow non-nominees, go forth and be productive. Oh, and you GH and RITA nominees? I secretly hoped you’d make it all the way down here despite my rude admonition to go away. Keep up the good work! Having been where you are now, I’m so proud of you and so excited for you. I’m especially rooting for you, GH finalists, may this be your Golden Ticket.
Peace out, fellow writers, I’ve got cows to wrangle so I can give my mortician a proper story.
P.S. I’m wearing a scrunchy. And I like it.