So many mixed thoughts and feelings come along with submitting your work for a contest. Have I edited it enough? Oh man, did I over-think my changes? Have I caught all my errors? Wait — I need to look it over ONE MORE TIME. Should I have stayed at third person POV? No, no, first is much better…isn’t it?
It doesn’t how many times I’ve read, then read again and again to ensure good voice and catch errors, my curser stays poised over that “Submit” button for hours before I will click it.
Today I finally clicked that button and entered #PitchWars, a Twitter contest. This contest matches writers with mentors, who spend a couple of months working together to polish a manuscript, that then goes into a massive contest. Lots of writers end up agented by the end, and of course, that’s the ultimate goal. It doesn’t cost anything to enter, and the worst that could happen is I don’t get chosen — but I still end up with some new writer friends. There really is nothing to lose, no downside.
So why is it SOOOO tough to click that button?
Well, I guess it’s because I feel totally exposed. I’ve shared all the thoughts and feelings that went into creating my characters and my storyline, and now I’ve asked someone else to judge them. Yikes! That’s like asking people I’ve only read about to judge my children! The mentors get many, many submissions to be mentored and can only choose one, therefore not getting selected doesn’t mean there’s something wrong…..but it still isn’t a good feeling.
It’s easy to stare at that Submit button for days, all the while my inner doubter (Or Sherman, as that voice is called in my book) is telling me what a bad idea it is to send my stupid story in.
I also recognize that I’ve felt that way every time I’ve entered a contest. And while I’ve not been chosen some of those times, I was picked other times. And I’ve won a few. So I understand what it’s like from both sides.
I was recently chatting with another writer around my age, and we discussed the challenges of beginning something new in our upper 50s. And while the downsides are there, there are many plusses about starting that late. Both of us agreed that we have a lot more confidence, time and life experience that will benefit us as we take on new directions.
So to all those starting a second life by trying something new, I say “Jump in with both feet!!!”
And to any young people reading this I say “Don’t ever stop trying new things.”