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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Surviving OMG Day

I got so excited watching all the RITA and Golden Heart finalist announcement today, I almost forgot to blog! And that's what I was going to blog about!

I love this day. I was one of those on the GH list six different years, and one year twice. That means I know finalists from 1998, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005 because we shared the honor. And there are others in other chapters I also know. True, I quit entering (what would I do with more Golden Hearts? Make earrings?) but that doesn't make it any less exciting to see their names pop up. Just looking at thenames we know from Melynda Beth Skinner's unofficial list, I know over half of them. Hooray and congratulations to all of you!

But there's the other side of finalist announcement day. For every finalist, there are about nine others who didn't final. Nine-tenths of the entrants are feeling really disappointed. I've been there, too, and I know it hurts. REALLY HURTS.

Not finalling doesn't mean you are bad writers, or even mediocre writers. It doesn't mean you didn't make the grade. At the same time, it doesn't mean the RITA and Golden Heart are valueless crapshoots. Lord, how I hate that term!

It does mean that judging of any creative endeavor is not objective. I'm always amazed at how hard we work to quantify something that can't be quantified. It's an impossibility. How can you compare how much I love a book with how much you love a different book? Impossible. We don't ever want it to be any other way, because in order to quantify the creative, we'd have to give up everything esoteric and measure what only can be measured. We'd be left with such marvelous qualities as the ability to paginate and set margins precisely.

At the same time, it really hurts when an author learns her particular five judges didn't love her story as much as another author's five judges. Maybe she missed by a mere fraction of a point. Or maybe, horrors, she happened to get the very judges who could not appreciate her story. Or maybe, just maybe, the judges who read her story saw the flaws she secretly knows are there. --Maybe she really wasn't good enough--

Don't tell yourself that. It will accomplish nothing but cutting holes in your self esteem. Stories that don't final one year frequently final the next year. Maybe they just need more polish. Maybe that sneaking suspicion that you should have cut out the prologue was right. Maybe it needed major re-construction. Don't beat yourself up over it. All authors have to fight these battles. The ones who "win" are the ones who throw every effort they can into uncovering their story's flaws (and all stories have them) and meticulously work to fix them.

Maybe it was your competition. Your story may be great but maybe this year your competition was nothing short of spectacular. You will never know. And maybe it was really nothing more than that their stories touched the hearts of those who judged. And that's what makes the best romance every time.

The only thing you really know is your work. You can learn how to make it better, and believe me, it can be better. The biggest battle a writer faces is in honing the story.

So get busy. Do it.



At 12:41 AM, Blogger Lee McKenzie said...

Great post, Delle. I wasn't eligible to enter this year so it was great to fun to relax and take part in the fun. Unfortunately, some really great writers I know weren't among the Rita/GH finalists and I shared their disappointment.

Like you, I've always taken exception to these contests being called a crapshoot. When a manuscript of mine didn't final, I hated to blame it on bad luck because then it only made sense to attribute being a finalist to good luck. And it's so much nicer to believe it was because of my writing.


At 6:05 PM, Blogger MaryF said...

The book that finalled for me this year hadn't finalled the last two times I entered it - it just wasn't up to par. I chopped the first 10 or so pages off and it finalled this time!

But yes, I've been where the non-finalists are and it's not fun. Don't give up!


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