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Entering Writing Contests–Battle Scars by Georgiana Daniels

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Today, we welcome my other critique partner, Georgiana Daniels, who’s going to reveal some of her “battle scars” received in the frontlines of writing contests.

Battle Scars
by Georgiana Daniels
 

Time heals all wounds . . .

. . . or at least makes them less noticeable. You should have seen the battle scars on my Genesis entry last year. It’s amazing how you can edit your piece a zillion times, have others check it over, make the necessary repairs, and still come out on the other side of the contest with some rather obvious flaws pointed out.

I had high hopes when I entered the contest, after all, surely someone would see the potential in my manuscript. Right? Though I was a finalist, my visions proved not to be entirely accurate. In fact, it was a humbling experience, which is a good thing. I came out of the contest with something valuable that I am so thankful for today: unbiased feedback.

Feedback is part of what makes contests priceless for aspiring writers. I’m in a unique position right now because I’m using last year’s judges comments to jumpstart my manuscript. When I initially received the comments, I was sure they’d missed the mark, that if they’d read further they’d understand, that they just didn’t get it. But now that almost a year has passed I realize that they were, for the most part, right.

Here’s where the time-heals-all-wounds factor comes into play: it’s not that the judges comments morphed over the last several months, it’s that my writing changed, my skill level changed, and frankly, I’ve changed. I see their feedback through slightly more mature eyes.

I recently discovered an interesting phenomenon that I named Word Attachment Disorder. It’s the acute condition of being unable to erase, let go of, or substantially change words after they have been committed to paper or hard drive. You know what I’m talking about! The only painless cure I have found to date is time.

You see, I can now press delete without feeling like I’ve erased something sacred. I can move words around, reconstruct sentences, and (gasp!) add new lines. And part of what I’m using is the unbiased feedback provided through the Genesis contest. What you do with your scores and judges responses, and how you learn to handle the criticism as well as the praise is more important than where you place.

If you entered Genesis, congratulations! You’ve taken the next step in your journey as a writer. No matter what the final results are, you are a winner.

About the Author:
Georgiana Daniels is an active member of ACFW and RWA. After graduating with a degree in public relations, she spent several years in the business world, but now has the privilege of staying home and working on the stories she loves. In the 2007 Genesis contest her entry placed 2nd in the chick lit category. Her first book, Table for One, is available now.

7 Comments
  1. Tuesday, March 4, 2008 11:04 pm

    Thank you for inviting me to visit, Kaye!

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  2. Wednesday, March 5, 2008 9:23 am

    Great post, G-. It is a big step to be able to reconstruct while you rewrite…one I think we’ve both come to at about the same time. 🙂 When is the next meeting of WADS, btw?

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  3. Wednesday, March 5, 2008 9:30 am

    Great advice!!!!

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  4. Wednesday, March 5, 2008 9:46 am

    Yes, a WADs meeting might be helpful. Because last night I started the revision on the opening of RH and cut the very first scene which I’ve loved since I wrote it three years ago.

    It’s amazing how receiving feedback, how learning to deal with these types of “battle scars” as a contest entrant has prepared me to jump at the chance to make changes and improve my writing based on what can be less-than-positive feedback (but still constructive, don’t get me wrong) from editors who really want to help me become a better writer.

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  5. Wednesday, March 5, 2008 10:48 am

    I thought about entering the Genesis this year but the timing just wasn’t right for me. It’s been interesting to read all of your perspectives on how contests can help make our writing stronger.

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  6. Wednesday, March 5, 2008 11:31 am

    Austin, there are lots of contests out there, I just happen to think Genesis is the best.

    PS. I think we should have a WAD meeting this weekend, for sure. I’ll bring the snacks 🙂

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  7. Tuesday, March 11, 2008 12:18 pm

    Sigh. I’m so addicted to my own words sometimes. One thing I’ve found to help myself cut things I know that I should (but I’m still attached to) is to create another doc and cut and paste the passages/lines into the new document. I saved it as something like “Words from (story name) that I hate to part with.” Will I ever open it again? Probably not. But at least it wasn’t all for naught 😉 .

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