Of Contests and Patience

Pretty contests. Pretty, pretty contests. Do you know what it’s like to have a finished (but not finished) manuscript when contests come rolling around?! It’s AGONY! I want to reach out and pet them.  I want to be truly finished so bad and I know I’m close. It is a terrible situation to be in. I know most of the major plot holes are fixed. Characters are well-formed, and, reading through it, I don’t hate it. It’s not done, though. There are still small nuances that I have to sneak in. Better wording. More visuals and less telling. More depth can still be added into the characters. In other words, it’s not finished and most definitely not ready for an agent’s keen eye.

It is an ugly lesson in patience that I have to keep reminding myself about each time a new contest screams “Enter me” (go ahead. Laugh. I’ll wait). Ok, are you better now? Back to what I was saying. I have to think how mortified I would be to send my MS as-is to an agent right this second, and that puts me in my place. Being a perfectionist is finally coming in handy! Let this be a lesson to us all: WAIT! You want to send the best possible version of your baby into the world, right? Sending it to contests when it is “almost” polished really isn’t doing you any favors, and you are giving agents a less than stellar idea of your work. Why not give them the best it can be rather than the okayest it is right now?

The other temptation is all these success stories! People who met their CP’s or found their agent through a contest. I wanna be a success too (imagine this said in whiniest voice possible).  This is probably why the lure of the contests is so strong. We are weakened by the possibility of hearing/seeing those magic little words “Full request” or even “Partial request.” So easily swayed, we writers are. Dangle a piece of paper that says Request and watch our eyes glaze over.

I will continue writing the new work that has been reignited recently and let my circus baby sit so I can come back to it with fresh eyes. I will run through it again and let other eyes tear it apart with their laser beam precision (Jason, that’s you, for starters). I will make this baby sparkle and shine before it is subjected to the mercies of any contests. Besides, if you’re on Twitter, you might have noticed by now, there is always a contest. Every few months, another one pops up. So let’s all vow together that we will not fall prey to the siren song of the contest….shiny….no, fight the shiny pretty! *internet connection goes dead*

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5 thoughts on “Of Contests and Patience

  1. Julie says:

    I have the same problem. I have a particular manuscript I’d love to start submitting to contests, and even querying, but it’s not ready. I know deep in my heart it’s not, no matter how seductively those contests wave at me. I like your way of counselling yourself in patience, how you’d feel sending it to agents right this minute. I’ll keep that in mind when I start trying to tell myself the manuscript’s ready. 🙂

  2. Meredith says:

    Fabulous post! I am RIGHT there with you. There are so many good ones coming up it’s killing me. I want to be ready so bad…..but so far just not quite there. But rooting for others is fun too. The only silver lining is that there are a ton of great contests through the end of the year. We have to be ready by then right?? LOL!

    • trishschmidt says:

      Haha, first I swore late Spring. Then I said Summer. Now I’m sorta saying Fall, but I feel like I’m going to stop giving myself a date and just focus on making it good. It will be ready when it’s ready.

  3. Love this!

    This post should be required reading before every contest, because entering a contest before you’re REALLY ready only sets you up for disappointment. (I know. I did it with my first ms.) But contests are tons of fun when you’re really ready for them 🙂

    In the meantime, look for the workshops that pop up around contest times. Many contest bloggers (Brenda Drake, Authoress…) offer workshops to help you revise WIPs in between contest times. Those are super helpful for networking with potential CPs and getting tons of valuable feedback!

    • trishschmidt says:

      oh, I definitely stalk…erm, follow Brenda Drake among others which is why the temptation for the contests is so strong! I know my time will come, it’s just making sure I am truly ready for it.

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