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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Monday, March 30, 2009

Don't Worry, Be Happy

If you didn’t final in the Golden Heart, it’s understandable that you might be disappointed, but sooner or later you’ve got to brush yourself off and get back to the computer. Without any revisions at all, that same manuscript could final next year (it’s happened to me). Or better yet, you might sell before you ever have a chance to enter the Golden Heart again. If you feel like you’re doing everything possible to get published, then let the disappointment and/or frustrations go and keep writing. One of these days it will happen.

"When you get in a tight place and everything goes against you, until it seems as if you could not hold on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time when the tide will turn.”
–Harriet Beecher Stowe

We’ve all heard stories about authors who wrote a dozen books before finally selling or who we’re about to give up and then got THE CALL the next day. If you keep writing, keep improving, keep believing, keep sending your stuff out there, it could happen to you too. But if you quit, you'll never know.

“We are made to persist. That's how we find out who we are.”
–Tobias Wolff

How about you? Do you have any prepublished war stories to help keep us unpublished writers motivated?

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17 Comments:

At 10:02 AM, Blogger Christine said...

Thanks for the post! I needed it. Nope, didn't final in the GH and didn't expect to as I got a contest entry back that pointed out a problem I agreed with (about the hero and it's a spicy romance sooooo.... blah). Any rate, it's been tough trying to get back into the saddle and work toward fixing it in a way that it might sell. I did hear from one of our chapter finalists that she'd entered the SAME manuscript three yrs in a row, and it got lousy scores (bottom third) and this year she finaled! It is so subjective.

 
At 11:13 AM, Blogger Trish Milburn said...

I'm living proof that a manuscript that doesn't final one year can not only final the next but win. Once you get to a certain level, the GH is kind of like getting published. You have to hit the right editor/judge at the right time with the right manuscript.

Though I know how hard it is to get back in the writing saddle, it's really the only option if you want to stay on the road to publication. I almost gave up so many times, but I'm so glad I didn't. Keep those fingers typing! :)

 
At 11:25 AM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Christine, so many people have finaled once and then go for years without finaling again. They begin to wonder if their finaling was a fluke, which it wasn't. I believe I read that one person who finaled this year has been trying for ten years and she has written 19 books. I didn't final until my fifth try. Perseverance is key and so is believing in yourself! You can do this!! Hang tight.

 
At 11:28 AM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Trish, thank you soooo much for chiming in here. I know there are so many people/writers out there who need to hear these stories right now. Doing well in contests help to keep writers going...giving them the validation to slog through another manuscript and not give up. But not finaling in contests isn't the end of the world. I've heard of writers who NEVER finaled in ANY contest but went on to make a sale! And that's all that matters in the end...

I hope everyone who didn't final in the GH or any other contests is able to brush themselves off and keep writing!

 
At 11:29 AM, Blogger Christine said...

Thanks Theresa. I am back in the saddle so to speak... taking a character workshop which forces me to work on my hero. And I am doing a read through and revision. My turn will come. Some people get up the first mountain quickly, others have more detours but get there just the same.

 
At 11:33 AM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Well said, Christine! Each of our journeys is a different one...some longer than others. I'm right there with you! And good job on taking workshops and doing everything you can to keep improving. I just finished a pacing workshop with Mary Buckham which was amazingly helpful.

 
At 1:16 PM, Blogger Terry McLaughlin said...

Trish is so right: "Once you get to a certain level, the GH is kind of like getting published. You have to hit the right editor/judge at the right time with the right manuscript."

I entered the same manuscript in the GH three times, with different results: a final, a non-final, a final and sale from the contest. The difference was hitting the right judge(s) at the right time with the right material, just as Trish said.

If you don't keep producing material and submitting it, you'll limit your chances for success.

 
At 4:26 PM, Blogger Delle Jacobs said...

It's funny, but I always feel lowest, most pessimistic, right before a book comes out. Nobody's going to buy it, all this promo is just wasted dollars, the book really wasn't the best I could do and I'm going to look like a fool, everyone will hate it and never buy another of my books. It'll totally tank and no editor will ever even look at my stuff gain. You name it, I go through it.

Well, any or all of that might be true- or not. It's dawned on me that talking my own book down also does no good, and probably does a lot of harm. The book is out there. I can't pull it back. I can't do anything except keep going. So why no do exactly that and let the book have its chance?

Now that I have a brand new ebook reader, I'm going to load one of my all-time favorite books and read it. It's about a woman who in her childhood had been saved from certain death at the very last minute, and by an enemy who appeared out of nowhere, then disappeared. So it became her personally motto to never give up, to hang on just a moment longer because you can never tell what the next minute will bring.

It's called Loki's Daughters, and I wrote it. Time to go back and remember its lessons.

 
At 4:32 PM, Blogger Delle Jacobs said...

You know, Christine, it's possible after three years, it's a much better book now. I've seen a lot of people who just kept working and went from being really unskilled, naive writers to darn good ones. Or it could also be the competition was not as stiff or as good this year, or that it was phenomenally tough in previous years.

It's also always true that we all see stories from different perspectives. I think this does make all judges' opinions of what they judge valid. They are like a pool of readership, just a very small one, and we have to expect that they'll see differently. Even when five or six judges all give the same score, if you asked them why they made their choices, they'd all give different answers.

 
At 6:00 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

I finaled and didn't win in 2001. Didn't enter the next year for fear it was a fluke the first time. On a whim I entered the same ms and my new one in the 2003 (Wet Noodle) GH, finaled, won, and sold!!

I'd already made the Churchill quote my motto. Never Never Never Give Up.

I think contests are a crap shoot. If you final, it means your ms is good, worthy, all those nice things. If you don't final, IT MEANS NOTHING!!

 
At 6:18 PM, Blogger MaryC said...

Trish said "Once you get to a certain level, the GH is kind of like getting published. You have to hit the right editor/judge at the right time with the right manuscript."

I used to jokingly say that it depended on which title I used. I entered the same mss 3 times. It finaled the first time I entered, but didn't win. The next time I decided to change the title and no final. In 2001, I changed the title back and finaled again. Go figure. ;)

 
At 6:48 PM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

See, I knew all of you Noodlers had great GH stories to share! Thanks so much.

And Delle, it's amazing all the doubt writers have before, during, and after they write a book.

Loki's Daughters sounds like a fabulous read!

Mary, LOL about changing the title. That would be really strange if it had anything to do with the subconcious of the judges...

 
At 6:49 PM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Diane, was it the 2001 finaling book that finaled in 2003 and then won and sold or was it the new book?

 
At 6:52 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

Theresa, It was the same book, the one I only entered as a lark.

 
At 10:01 PM, Blogger Delle Jacobs said...

A big huge spirit lifter!

UPS truck came late today. I was expecting something else that didn't come, but I opened the box and there are all my author copies for SINS OF THE HEART! The last book was terrific, although I secretly wished the cover had a matte finish to go with the wonderful daubed texture background. But this one is totally gorgeous in the high gloss! I'm just blown away because I didn't expect it to look this incredible!

Can't wait to get out there and hawk this book!

 
At 5:23 AM, Blogger MJFredrick said...

Congratulations on getting your author copies, Delle!

 
At 9:13 AM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Yay, Delle, the cover sounds awesome!

 

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