The end is coming, the end is coming… Sounds like Chicken Little, right? Unfortunately, Lil Chicky would be right – for 2 of the American Title Finalists, the end is coming. And, boy, does that put a hole in my gut. It could be me. (But not if you vote for Beauty and The Best 🙂 ) Or, if not me, one of the other 9 people I’ve grown to know and like through our shared experiences on the loop. We’re all sitting on pins and needles hoping we’re spared. Who came up with this contest anyway? 🙂 Why did I enter? What was I thinking? Well, that last one is easy. I was thinking that I really liked my story and the readers who’ve read it have loved it. What better way to publication than to have readers choose it?
It’s the hope that keeps us going. But it’s always nice for validation and that’s what everyone’s comments have done for me. You write a story, then put it out there, like sending your child off to kindergarten. Will all the other kids talk nicely to yours? Include him in the group? Or push him around and talk about him behind his back? It’s the same pain, the same worries, because you’ve put your heart into this story too.
In all the ups and downs in this business, there is one contest judge comment I keep coming back to. A question on the score sheet was, “What, if anything, do you find wrong with this entry?” and her answer was, “The only thing wrong with this entry was that I didn’t write it.” That made my day. For all the disparaging marks about my chatty heroine, for the “almost” rejections, that one comment makes me smile. It tells me that judge got the story, got the heroine’s pain, the hero’s futility and the voice and, for her, it worked.
It’s comments like those that keep me moving forward. Someone likes my stuff. (Well, more than one someone.) Sometimes in this business, you need words like that to hold on to. I know I wrote her a thank you note telling her how much those words meant to me, but I want to reiterate them publicly. That’s how to inspire. She didn’t have to go that far, she could have just said, “Good job.” But she gave me words to cling to.
So, as the contest draws to a close for two of us, find the words to cling to that show this isn’t the end of the story. Someone thought enough of our work to put us in this contest in the first place. If it doesn’t find a home here, it’s just one more paver in the road to publication. Maybe this paver leads you to the left, maybe to the right, maybe you just keep going straight.
But whatever, you do, keep going.
Best of luck to my fellow contestants!
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