The Big News is that my all-dialogue story ended as a runner-up in the Stella Cameron 2011 Scarlet Boa contest. Thrilled doesn’t describe my feelings about that. Along with the wonderful support from the people who read and voted for my story, I received a signed copy (with a personal message!) of one of Stella’s books and an outrageous, va-va-voom Christmas-red-and-green feather boa which is hanging on the arm of the floor lamp next to my desk as I write. Whenever I am stuck for words, I look at those feathers and just have to grin. Inspiration usually knocks on my hard head soon after.
So do you want to know how I received the affirmation of doing this well in Stella’s contest? I worked at it. Last year was not the first time I entered this contest (nor will it be the last). Each time I entered and didn’t even final, I marked my calendar to be ready for the next year’s challenge.
And I wrote. A lot. Then rewrote. Even more.
I wrote and rewrote, read and re-read and rewrote some more. Then I had my writing buddies read my entry. I rewrote some more, implementing some of their suggestions for improvement. Then my buddies re-read the new version of my story. Until finally, I knew that the story was as ready as I could make it. Then I submitted it – with a prayer.
That’s the way being a writer works. It’s sitting down and doing the work. If you don’t get words on paper, you don’t make any progress in your desire for a writing career. If you don’t look at your work and see what needs to be improved, and then write that part over again, you don’t move forward. If you don’t have someone else look at your work, and take his or her suggestions that improve your story or article, you find yourself disappointed time after time, when you open yet another rejection letter.
Take a chance this year. Find a contest, or a call for submission from a publisher – something that will make you stretch as a writer. Get cozy in whatever space you claim as your “perfect” writing space, and get some words on paper or the screen. I’m here cheering you on.