First let me say that this morning I was still on a high from placing second in the Genesis contest chick lit category. But, you know, it's funny how easy it is to come down from a high like that.
Like, for instance, when you receive the judges' comments.
As thrilled as I am to have placed second, part of me is wondering just how I actually made it all the way up that high. Because, according to the scores, one of the judges loved my entry and one...well...not so much, it seems.
I should be used to it; after all, it's not like this hasn't happened before. Last year, this same manuscript finaled in another national contest. One of the final round judges loved it (even requested the full) and one hated it (scored me so low I came in 4th out of 4 finalists).
Don't get me wrong - I am VERY thankful for the feedback they gave me. It's not that I'm resisting their comments. Believe me - although of course it stings a little to get negative feedback, I'm not being defensive. I'm all about learning and improving my craft. I KNOW I'm not all that. I have A LOT to learn and I'm willing and completely open to suggestions and critique.
What confuses me is when two judges say the exact opposite things. One might say my voice is fresh, the other might say I need to find a fresher, more unique voice. One judge might say there is great opportunity for conflict and the other might say there is not sufficient conflict. One might say my main character is not likable, another might say my main character is totally relatable!
So who do I believe? Whose word do I accept as truth?
After the contest last year (the one where I placed last in the finals), I received a word of encouragement from the contest coordinator. This has stuck with me. She said that when a story causes two completely opposite opinions (in this case evidenced in the scores I received), it's USUALLY because the writing invokes strong reactions - either good or bad - and this is a good thing. That this USUALLY is the sign of an excellent writer. After all, the goal of any writer is to touch emotions, right?
So, I guess the moral of this post is, you'll either love my writing or hate it. Now the trick is finding an editor and/or agent who loves it enough to publish it! (And, of course, readers who love it, too!)
I have to add something, though. Like many writers, I have a "Writing Tip of the Day" posted on my blog. I love reading these and lately each daily tip has totally related to what I've been feeling in my writing journey. In fact, I just now checked today's tip and it says,
Believe in the quality of your work and the value of your message and at the same time, recognize surprises always happen in publishing.
I so needed to hear this today! I guess when I'm faced with differing opinions about my writing and style, I need to trust my gut instinct, believe in the quality of my work, and pray that God will help me to clearly convey the message He wants me to share.
But, even more important, is the Daily Snippets from the Word verse for today, which says,
"But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows." (Luke 12:7)
This reminds me that no matter what others may think of my work, my heavenly Father loves me. Not because of what I do, but because of who I am.
Yep, definitely needed this today.
Forgive my ramblings...I plan to go over the judges comments with a fine tooth comb and perhaps beg for edits from a couple of friends and see what I can do with this manuscript to make it shine.
I sincerely thank the judges for taking the time to read and judge my work. I know that their opinions and suggestions come from a heart to help an aspiring novelist like me achieve success. For that, I am truly grateful.