While we’re talking about contests, I’ll tell you my secret:
In 2005, I submitted the opening pages of a novel to a manuscript contest. The judge praised the strengths, noted the weaknesses, and awarded me a score of 85.
In 2006, I submitted the very same pages to the very same manuscript contest. The judge praised nothing and awarded me a score of 18.
The 67 points between high and low scores taught me a valuable lesson.
Judging is subjective. What one judge likes, another hates. Not everyone loves my work as much as I think they should. Or as much as I do. I’m competing with a large pool of writers who have talent, skill, and experience.
If I allow one rejection to discourage me, I might as well quit right now.
I don’t want to quit.
I won’t pretend I was thrilled with the second score or with the judge’s comments. I won’t pretend I didn’t rampage around the house telling husband and cats exactly what I thought. I won’t pretend I was surprised when husband and cats announced they needed their beauty sleep and high-tailed it up the stairs.
But by the next day I’d regained my equilibrium. One contest, one critique sheet, one manuscript.
Then I sat down at the computer, and opened a file, and began to write.