So I still consider myself new at this writing game. I never wanted to do anything related to writing when I was younger although I will admit my mind was filled with a myriad of intriguing stories I used to live out in my head as I fell asleep each night. But write them down, horror!
Maybe it stems back to Junior year English class when we were reading The Scarlet Letter. My teacher would ask us what WE thought the significance of this or that was in the story. I gave my opinion. And was subsequently told my opinion was wrong. The author clearly meant THIS! Well I honestly don’t think Mrs. Segal knew Nathaniel Hawthorne considering he wrote the story in 1850. She wasn’t that old. Now if it had been my Senior year teacher, Miss Macnamara, she could have possibly known Nathaniel Hawthorne.
But I’d always been taught that an opinion was what someone thought and couldn’t be wrong. Apparently I was wrong. Or at least in Mrs. Segal’s mind I was. So I tried to keep anything writing related to a minimum. Thanks Mrs. Segal. I could have been a famous writer years ago if it weren’t for you.
So my point in all this is that people have different opinions. It’s what makes the world go round. And it’s why we have so many different genres of books, movies, websites etc… My opinion is just as important as the next person’s.
Unless you’re an editor. Their opinion is way more important than anyone else’s. An editor is always right, right? So if an editor says my book isn’t good then I must believe it is no good, no one will like it, and go back to the drawing board.
Back in the spring, I finished my first manuscript (well, the first that was meant to be submitted for publication anyway. I’ve written other things but those were my practice runs to stay deep inside the closet never to see the light of day). I submitted it to two editors who’d made requests. One from a Twitter pitch and one from a writer’s conference. I sent them in and promptly got rejection letters.
The funny thing was, one editor said she loved my characters but blah blah blah needed some work. The other one said my characters needed some work. Hmmm… confused here. So I set this story on the side burner and started a new one. In the meantime I entered a writing contest. I’d been looking at different ones for a while and finally settled on The Golden Rose out of Rose City Romance Writers. They allowed up to 10,000 words where others were only first chapters or so.
I entered my first story. Yes, the rejected one. But I entered this story because I knew it needed some work. For my entry fee I’d get the score sheets and comments from three different judges. What a bargain. Sent it in and promptly forgot about it. I wasn’t planning to work on that story until I finished revising and editing the new one.
So, much to my surprise, I got a phone call one night, unknown cell number from some weird area code. But I picked it up anyway. Don’t know why. Just did. Good thing. It was someone from The Golden Rose telling me my entry had gotten into the top three finalists for the contemporary category, the largest category they had.
After I stuttered my disbelief and a few OMG’s, I was able to thank her and let her know I’d send it back with any revisions I wanted to make based on the feedback within the time frame. Then I got off the phone and squealed. Yup, squealed and flapped my arms like a lunatic. Really? Me?? I only entered the contest to get feedback on a crappy story. Now they tell me it was one of the top 3 best that they got. A little different tune from the editors.
So again I think back to Mrs. Segal who made me think that my opinion didn’t matter. That only the important opinions mattered. Like hers and editors. But, you know what? She was wrong.
UPDATE: DEC. 15, 2013
I came in FIRST place in the contest.