The five-month wait is over. I now have my score and critique in hand—the results of having entered my first writing contest. It’s been quite an experience so far. If you’re an aspiring writer, I highly recommend putting your work out there for judgement. Sounds ominous, but it’s a great way to improve in our craft.
I entered Operation First Novel, a contest sponsored by the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. In the cover letter accompanying my critique, Jerry Jenkins encouraged entrants. He reminded us that many writers never get this far, actually completing a manuscript, and he spurred us to “press on”, (Philippians 3:12).
Having read that, holding my breath, I turned to my score and critique. I had mistakenly thought the score was based on 100 points, so you can guess my reaction when I saw my score that was actually based on 70 points. A 30 point difference in expectation caused a moment of angst before I caught my error.
Overall, I didn’t do too badly. I’ve participated in countless auditions and contests, so this is a familiar place—though I’ve never had to wait five months for results! (I’m of the school of thought some days that says instant gratification isn’t fast enough.)
My judge wrote helpful comments and suggestions for each of the seven criteria. The judge also had plenty of positive feedback which confirmed that I’m on the right track. I don’t know where the track’s going yet, but it’s the right one to be on.
So, with critique in hand, I’ve started the revision process—the fourth pass through. The judge suggested a resource book on revision: The First Five Pages: A Writer’s Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile by Noah Lukeman. Writers, trust me, you need this book.
I feel good, even a little exhilarated. I’m the Little Engine That Could. I’m pressing on. Revision. Agent hunt…
When I feel discouraged, thinking I started this writing game too late, I remember what an 80-something friend said, “but you wouldn’t have had the maturity to write then like you do now.”
Press on to take hold of the prize. Win the race!
Be blessed to be a blessing.