Hello, Katy Lee here. First off, the winner of the Catherine Anderson Lucky Penny book goes to Gail Ingis! Woo-Hoo, Gail! Congrats! Catherine will be mailing the book off to you shortly. Enjoy!
Now, I have just finished judging eight entries to CTRWA’s Write Stuff Contest. I always look forward to the many contests I participate in throughout the year. I love reading works-in-progress in all its various stages, but I really get excited to see a work ready for an editor’s eyes. If I reach the last page of the entry and am mad that I can’t continue, I stress my frustration to the writer. “Get this book on the shelves!”
I’ll be honest, though, typically those entries are few and far between. But that is okay, because writing contests are not just for the perfect entries. They are also a way for a new writer to put their baby in front of another pair of eyes. It is an opportunity for them to receive some helpful feedback before sending their work out to editors and agents. (Who typically don’t give anything other than the dreaded rejection letter.) There’s no shame in submitting a story in its beginning stages. If you are entering to win, that’s different, but if you are just looking for a quick critique of the direction of your work, I encourage you to send it in. It’s a learning opportunity to perfect your craft. And not only that, it’s a motivational tool to press on.
For me, as a judge, seeing the shiny finished pieces, knowing they, too, once fell into the “ugly baby” stage, is a testimony to never give up to all writers. They prove that with dedication and hard work there is hope for us in all our stages. I do my best to be kind and constructive when giving ideas or pointing out better words that could be used in certain places, but I know the writer may still misconstrue my feedback and take it personally.
And maybe they are right, but not in the sense they think.
I personally want to encourage all writers to keep at it. As a judge I see in front of me all the stages a piece goes through before it’s ready for the shelf. I know with hard work and dedication even the baby entries can be transformed into shelf worthy. So, enter your works and let the judge’s words motivate you, not discourage you. Keep at it until your baby is on the shelves, too.
The Unlocked Secret: It may be called judging, but I like to consider it more as cheerleading. Someone who has seen the beginning and end results and cheers writers on to their dream of publication. Go for it!
Question: If you have judged writing entries before, what have you learned from the process? Or, are you a writer who thinks their story isn’t ready for a contest?