Right, so I haven’t been sleeping. It’s not the stress, or the dissertation, or the revisions, or the new WIP, or anything like that. There just aren’t enough hours in a given week to do all the things that I want and visit with my mom. So I stopped sleeping there for a while.
Yeah, this is not the recipe for success, in case you were wondering.
I spent yesterday bumping around the house like some post apocalyptic zombie. “EEEEhh, work? OHHHH, *shiny*! Wait, what was I doing?” (this may or may not be an actual conversation I had with the wall).
I had a fantastic time at The Writers Voice, and I even got a vote (SQUEEEEEE!). Whenever I enter contests, I always remind myself that there is a very real possibility that I not only won’t win/get picked/whatever—and not in the privacy of my own inbox, but in the bright lights of prime time twitter.
See when I first started in on the query and contest phase of it all, I had this little voice. Maybe you’ve heard it. When I first started, that little voice would say “OMG, my stuff is so incredible that when I enter this contest, it’s going to knock the socks off every agent on the planet. I’ll have to beat them off with a stick!” ::Checks to make sure stick is readily available::
We’ve all been there, I assure you.
But when the use of the stick isn’t necessary, well, that hurts. And let me just say, my stick has been sitting in the corner collecting dust. I’ve never been the beauty queen of a query contest. And that stupid voice turns on me as soon as the contest is over. “Well, your stuff wasn’t any good anyway, why’d you think it was? Because your mom liked it? Oh yeah, that’ll look good, a blurb from your mother in the query, good job. What made you think you could even write? Maybe they know my committee? Oh god, does everyone know how much I suck at this? Great Copernicus, does everyone know how much of an idiot I am?”
Yeah, I think I’ve talked about the stupid voice before.
So my project hasn’t seen prime time yet, but I’ve gotten some good feedback on it. That means for the first time ever, I entered a contest with my eyes open. I knew it wasn’t likely that I’d get picked. And I got picked as an alternate, squeaking into the contest in the very last seconds (Yeah, more on the squeaking in thing for IWSG). I’d already resigned myself to not getting picked, so already, the contest was way more than I’d expected. Also, to be near the top 20 % was just awesome. It gave me some validation (why am I always looking for that on the outside? Someday I’ll purge the dumb from my head). Since I didn’t think I’d get picked, I’d already picked the agents I would start querying. Still, having been picked, I knew something about the market, so I didn’t have my hopes set that high. There are plenty of people who don’t get me, and plenty of people who’ve told me that having a troll for a best friend is a HUGE turnoff. So I already knew my chances were slim. Slim like the width of an obsidian surgical tool.
Which is to say, getting a vote rocked my socks off. I did the happy dance and I didn’t fall asleep for hours because I seriously didn’t think I’d get a vote.
The other side of this is that I’m sure someone from the contest got only one vote and today feels embarrassed by it. If you’re that person, I just want you to know that your feelings are completely valid. It’s all about perspective. I once got an A- in a class that made me rage at the prof. I once got a C+ and sang my professors praises for weeks (I seriously grinned every time I thought about how I passed that class, cause seriously, it was really freakin hard). The difference is all perspective.
And for those of you who got no votes, I have no words that will ease your pain. All I can say is I’ve been there. It hurts. I’ve been passed by. The only thing I can think to tell you is that what we seek isn’t what we think we seek. You’re not looking to have your manuscript loved by every agent who comes by. You’re looking to connect on a profound level with one agent who will shepherd your manuscript from where it is now to the greatness it could be; someone who not only loves this book, but loves your writing so much that they want to see more of it, even the stuff they don’t usually look at. You are looking for that one agent. That one person who gets your work, who will be able to spot things you’d never dreamed of (and no, I’m not talking about a crit partner, those are different). You are looking for the person who is a perfect match for you. That person wasn’t at the contest. That doesn’t mean this book isn’t The One, or that your perfect agent isn’t out there, it just means that those agents aren’t one of them. And that’s hard. Chin up and carry on. Have a song. It’s currently one of my favorites. (not to mention, what an awesome band name!)