Okay, forget I said "Sane." Even Gerard Butler got a laugh out of that one ! There is no such thing as a sane writer. If you find one, let me know and then back away slowly. They're either a Pod Person or an Alien and we're in a Roland Emmerich movie.
The mind of a writer can be a truly terrifying
thing. Isolated, neurotic, caffeine addled,
crippled by procrastination, and consumed
by feelings of panic, self-loathing, and
soul-crushing inadequacy. And that's on
a good day.
Robert de Niro
Everyone in our little community, unless they were hiding under a rock doing revisions for a dictatorial editor whose sole mission in life is to torture writers, knows the Golden Heart and Rita calls went out this past Wednesday.
HUGE CONGRATS TO OUR VERY OWN LEXI GEORGE ON HER
RITA NOMINATION !!
Not getting a call, even when you really, really wanted one is not the end of the world. It isn't even the end of your writing career. It does sting, however, and anyone who entered and didn't final is entitled to feel let down, a little depressed and even a tiny bit ticked off. Writers may not be sane, but we are human, at least after we've had a cup of coffee or three.
Thus, the point of this blog post. (Finally !! you say. I thought she'd never shut up. "Get to the pernt, Edith!" Extra points if you get the reference.)
Here are a few do's and don'ts for surviving this bump in the road.
1. Realize that is all it is - a bump in the road. It's just a contest like any other and even with all of
the new rule changes and the new point system it is STILL subjective. You can't please all of the
people all of the time. (And if you can, get some Blistex, honey 'cause your lips have got to be
chapped. :) )
2. Take some time to give yourself a pity party. I limit mine to 24 hours, but you can set your own
limit, so long as you set one. Scarf enormous quantities of chocolate, wine and pizza. Lay around
in your pajamas (Bathing optional : But only if you're single, not leaving the house and/or your
significant other and children are out of town.) Treat yourself to a Downton Abbey marathon or
a mani / pedi or anything else that makes you feel better.
3. Congratulate those who did final. It is a huge honor and they deserve it. Celebrate with them. And
feel pleased for them. It's good karma and it's the right thing to do. Not to mention there might be
more wine and chocolate involved.
4. There are a number of blog posts and discussion loops dissecting the new scoring system, the
number of finalists in some categories, the revamping of the process - you name it. Go ahead
and read them if you like. Might make you feel better. Might not. BUT (We're talking BIG BUT,
here. One of the BUT SISTERS big. We're talking Kim Kardashian in white spandex BIG!) if
you comment on these posts Be Kind. Be Thoughtful. And realize without exact statistical data
most speculation is exactly that - speculation. RWA is not a perfect organization. Even after all
of these years RWA is still growing and adjusting. We'll get it right, but not if we fight amongst
ourselves. We are a sisterhood (with a few brothers thrown in for good measure) and like all
sisters we will disagree from time to time. Don't say things you can't take back. Don't air the
family's dirty laundry in public. No hair pulling and no hitting. We're Romance Writing Sisters
NOT the Kardashian Sisters. We're writers! If you have a grievance, an idea, or just something to
say - write it down and zip it off to RWA. Get it off your chest without putting an axe in your
fellow writer's cleavage. Save that for your next novel !
5. When you get your scores back read them over. Scream. Cry. Plot the murder of the East German
judge who tanked you with a score just low enough to keep you out of that 90%, call me and
we'll plan how to get her body to the Alligator Farm without getting caught. Curse. Curse a lot.
Swear you'll never enter another contest and decide to pack in your writing career forever.
6. Then print those scores out, put them in a folder and put them away for a few days, a week if you
need it. After some time has passed, take them out and lay them side by side. Take stock. What
areas did you score high in and what areas received low scores? Write each category down and put
the five scores you received under it. If you see a judge's scores that are really off throw them out.
That East German b*&^% is keeping company with the alligators. We don't care what she thinks.
Look for consistencies. I have done this with every contest I have ever entered for every book I
have entered into contests. With forty-seven contest finals under my belt (Contest Slut) and
probably twice that in contests in which I didn't final I've got this down to a science. Consider
those areas where you have consistencies, decide if they're valid and then do something about it.
Take a class. Read a craft book. Talk to your critique partners.
The only thing you can't fix is a blank page. Remember that because La Nora says so. I don't know
about you, but I'm not about to take her on, sister.
7. Get your butt back in that chair and WRITE, dammit! If you're a writer "We'll get 'em next year!"
is not just a beauty queen wave at life's gut shots. It is a moral imperative. Keep at it. Not for the
contest accolades, or the phone call next March 26th or the loads of money people think writers
make. Not for the tiaras and the bon bons and the personal trainer named Joe.
WRITE !! Because your day is coming. Your stories are going to change someone's life. They're going to give someone comfort when they need it, or a laugh when they need it, or a cry when they need it or just an escape from life when it gets tough to take. (Some of you ladies are going to have women's undying thanks when they finally get their husbands to read some of THOSE scenes and these guys figure out "Get off me, you're heavy." is NOT an expression of gratitude.)
8. Believe in yourself. So you didn't get a call. You are in good company. Plenty of writers I admire -
published and unpublished didn't get calls this year. It doesn't change their talent or their skill or
their ability to tell a great story. Doesn't change yours either. And if believing in yourself isn't
enough, find someone else who believes in you and know you're not in this alone.
If you have trouble finding someone to believe in you, let me know.
I believe in you.
So long as you keep trying, I always will.
What tips do you have to offer to those who didn't get the call or perhaps got a rejection of some other sort? What do you do to deal with the bumps in the road on this writing journey?