I've been slowly but surely working my way through my manuscript for The Tyrant King, trying to make it the best I possibly can. Recently, kind of on a whim because I didn't expect to enter anything, I entered the first chapter in a contest that's part of the writing retreat I'm attending in November. This week, we found out the contest results.
As I read through the blog announcing the first, second and third place winners, I consoled myself with the thought that I hadn't expected to enter, and really hadn't expected to place either. I thought, if I'm going to enter the contest, I want to take a little more time on the chapter, tighten it up and make it "perfect" before I send it in. But, when the deadline came, I couldn't make time to work on it so I just sent in what I had. After all, it's what I submitted to the publisher in the spring--with a few minor changes since then.
Then I got an email detailing my placement in the contest and containing the judges' evaluations of my work.
I placed 5th.
I'm probably disproportionally proud of that achievement. But, to be honest, I'm ecstatic to have placed 5th. That's only two away from being a prize-winning piece. It's pretty cool for me--as long as there were more than 5 entries...:)
But, seriously, the best part is the judges' feedback. I love when I get input that helps me grow as a writer and makes my work stronger and better. I'm really hoping, even though it's going to take a couple extra weeks, when I do send in The Tyrant King for the final time my editor will be impressed by my improvements and the work I've put into it since she requested the changes.
This is a lesson for me. I've never done well with contests, and I decided a while back that I just don't have **award winning** writing, so why subject myself to the roller coaster of emotion that follows entering and then losing a contest? But there is something to be gained through this process. You can get invaluable feedback from people put in positions to judge those contests. Some are editors, some are literary agents, some are more seasoned writers than you are. Than I am.
When I enter a contest again, it's not going to be with an eye on the prize. It's going to be for the satisfaction of learning and growing into the best writer I can be.