Sometimes the generosity of our published authors astounds me.
On Friday night, after the awards ceremony, I realized I'd entered my story in a total of seven contests: two in 1996, before an incident had me shelving the story and turning to other writing outlets, and five since 2005 where it reached the finals four times. The best it ever placed was third, however, and it did that twice. Always the same kind of comments (and I must add, some of them have me wondering whether the judge actually read the work or skimmed so missed some salient points. I mean, if someone is faceless, chances are you haven't seen his/her face, right?): Excellent writing skills, beautiful imagery yadda, yadda, yadda. BUT . . .
So, on Friday night, I threw me, myself, and I a huge pity party, cried my eyes shut (and paid in spades Saturday morning!), and debated tossing the %*&@ manuscript in the trash. Those kinds of comments give no direction. WHAT is behind the incessant "but?" Where was I---and I didn't fool myself the story was at fault (although blaming it would have been so much easier)---falling short?
Saturday morning, I talked to a friend who is a NYT best selling author. She asked if I'd read her comments. What? It turns out she was my published judge. She told me she'd written extensive comments (which, the contest coordinators promise, I shall have by email tomorrow) and knew what the story lacked. Then she talked to me and put a face on that elusive "but."
She didn't have to do that. The woman has a career many of us would commit some kind of felony to have. Even so, she took the time. I am so grateful.
I told her about the challenge, too. She thinks it's a great idea, but told me to trash the prologue I'd written, and then told me why I should. (Okay, I'm cringing here, but I have to say this:) After thinking about it, I have to agree, she's right.
So everything I've done so far goes into the circular file, but it'll be worth it for a stronger, more saleable manuscript.
What other profession gives so freely of its time to those that would follow?
Writing is a lonely, often discouraging profession, but there are hands out there ready to help, encourage, even slap, if need be. How can we not offer the same to each other and, in time, those who will follow us? I must say, I feel honored and privileged to be counted among such amazing, selfless women.
Now it's on to keeping my part of this challenge bargain. I'm excited. Scared, but excited.
Time to get to work!