Blogger: Michelle Ule
Filling in for Mary Keeley who is traveling today.
If you’re a writer, have you entered any contests?
I spoke with some writers recently who asked about the value of contests.
One had had a bad experience with the judging–getting a high mark and a low mark–which left her confused.
I shared my experience and I’ve been thinking about what a good thing it was I got a ridiculously low mark.
Here’s the story.
The first two loved the project:”ready for publication.”
The third noted, “you really ought to learn how to use commas.”
I saw red.
Furious doesn’t describe my feelings well enough.
Irate, horrified, insulted. Who was that judge?
No one had ever commented on my (mis)use of commas–not even my boss who is a noted editor.
Who was this anonymous judge?
After storming around for several days, I calmed down.
I realized I was feeding the seed root of bitterness over this contest and it was damaging me more than the judge.
Besides, what if she was right?
So, I swallowed my pride and did a research project: commas.
I’m happy to report (okay, this is gloating) that I was right and the judge was wrong.
I even learned a couple more ways to use a comma.
But still. I lost the contest because of that judge.
Did I really lose anything?
“They” say you can best see God’s hand in the rear view mirror and sitting here today, I believe the judge did me a favor.
I finaled in the same contest the next year which led to my first writing contract.
The timing, for me, to earn a contract the next year was much better.
Had I won the contest and a contract the year I was comma-challenged, I would have been writing during my daughter’s stuffed full of activities senior year of high school.
We had a foreign exchange student living with us.
One of our adult children moved home.
A grandchild was born.
I spent a month in Europe.
When would I have had time to write my project, much less do all the marketing required?
Looking back, I’m relieved.
I’ve written before about God’s perfect timing with A Log Cabin Christmas Collection. You can read my astonishing story here.
In 2011 I had plenty of time to think, write and market.
A Log Cabin Christmas Collection made the New York Times best seller’s list.
None of those thing would have happened if I had not had a judge mistakenly think I knew nothing about commas.
I’m grateful, today, for the contest and the judge.
Is timing everything?
Timing plays an important role in the publishing world. Others have written about the agony of having their book released on September 11, 2001. Those books, and the ones published in the following months, had little chance of catching the world’s attention.
What if your book came out the same day as the final Harry Potter book?
As a Christian, I believe God’s hand plays an important role, perhaps the most important role, in our publishing lives.
This means, I can leave my writing career, my goals, my projects, in His hands and wait for the right time.
I’m sitting on a project right now like that–I’d love to be writing and talking about it–but the answer to prayer is “not yet.”
So yes, enter contests, but release control of your publishing life to God.
That’s the only way to ensure that contests and contracts come at the right time–for the book, but also for you.
How a contest stalled and saved a career. Click to Tweet
Is losing a contest valuable in a writing career? Click to Tweet