A Shame and A Sin

Letters to My Unpublished Self Part 2

This is a shame and a sin.

It’s a shame four-and a-half years later, and I’ve not completed my first work in progress. My husband will think it’s a sin when he comes home, and I haven’t washed the
breakfast dishes.

About that WIP—I’m making progress and I won’t quit. And in my defense, and I’m not sure why I’m trying to defend myself. But, I do have two kids, a job and a long list of social and civic obligations.

One of the stops on my journey to becoming a published author is contest land. RWA contests are great proving ground. So much can be learned from twenty-five dollars and twenty-five pages. Lessons that go beyond the mechanics of writing.

My recent contest feedback really crystallized the indefinable spark theory. One judge liked my work, gave glowing encouraging comments and honest constructive feedback. For a second judge my writing didn’t hold that ‘spark,’ she didn’t like my story and couldn’t find anything nice to say. I’ll take the advice offered, focus on the positive and keep trying.

Judging contests also helps a writer understand the position of an editor. It’s possible to read nine entries that don’t strike you. It’s not the mechanics, the plot or the setting. It’s an indefinable spark, like meeting a person that you just click with.

As I’ve reflected on judging contests, I am reminded
of an experience from grad school. One of my professors evaluated my work just before she went in to defend her dissertation. She got beat up pretty bad. When she returned to her task as evaluator, she re-worded her responses to her students. The content of her evaluation did not change but the words she used altered, dramatically. I’m trying to apply this lesson as I take my turn in the judge’s seat. When holding another person’s dream in my hand, I hope to tread lightly, and offer an honest, helpful, compassionate critique.

And about that WIP, my goal is to start the query
process in June. Thanks to my participation in contests,
I already have a synopsis and query letter written. I’m ready to roll. I’m also ready to wash the breakfast dishes.

One day I’m going to look back in wonder.

Published Spring 2009
Blowing Kisses
Windy City Romance Writers Newsletters

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