Monday, November 22, 2010

I Dream of a Golden Heart...or Do I?

photo credit: kristal lee romances
In July I attended my first RWA Golden Heart Award Ceremony, the Emmy's of the romance writers world. I primped for the occasion, donning a cocktail dress and enjoying dinner, wine, and schmoozing with other writers. As each category was announced and the winner revealed, I dreamed that one year my name would be called and I would have my moment gliding across the stage to accept the coveted award.

Next year will not be that year. I'm not sure that any future year will be either. Now, I'm not dissing my work because I don't think it's good. Rather, I'm reassessing my dream. My real dream.

As it turns out, the Golden Heart isn't my dream. Publication is. That means my current and future efforts are focused on that single, simple goal.

I've never entered the Golden Heart contest, so I can't speak to its judging and selection process. I have, however, entered other contests and found the feedback confusing. What two judges raved about, a third judge hated. In my inexperience, I found myself always catering to the critic who tore everything apart because whatever issue they had, I wanted to fix. It took me a long time, and losing my voice, to realize the not all feedback is golden. Some of it is crap and should be flushed down the toilet, pronto!

My experiences with the contest circuit caused me to forget the only writer's rule that should never be broken: my story is my story and I'm the only one who can write it. My story is not in the heart of some nameless judge who may not have expertise in the paranormal genre or who may have less writing experience than I do. My story is in my heart, my soul, my imagination. It is mine and mine alone. I need to own it. From the first click of the keys tapping out, Chapter One, to the last words, The End. I must stay true to my creation as I envisioned it, otherwise it's no longer mine.

My intent here is not to poo-poo contests, or tarnish the Golden Heart. All the finalists and winners are hard workers and deserve their moment in the spotlight. I begrudge them not in the least. And I will clap and whoop and holler with the best of them to show my support. They earned it. They deserved it.

For me, the stress of preparing for a contest and then waiting, waiting, waiting for the results takes away time from my heart's desire to see my work professionally published. Since my writing time is very limited, I must engage in those activities that have more of a potential of getting me closer to my dream. I need to finish my current WIP. I need to start planning the next one. I need to revise and edit the one that's been fermenting for a month or two. I need to query. I need to write that synopsis even though it gives me the willies.

I've gained an understanding that I'm not dedicated to the contest circuit like a bull rider is to the rodeo.The Golden Heart will probably never be my brass ring. But to those who are reaching for it, I wish you all the best from the bottom of my heart and when you hear the shouts and cheers go out when you're name is called, know that I'm somewhere in the crowd hooting for you.

~Kristal Lee

Reposted from NKotWB 

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Sarah Hoss said...

I had also entered a contest, where I got great reviews from 2 judges and a very bad one from 1 judge. It can be hurtfula dn confusing.

I since have entered another contest, so we will see what happens.

I wish you luck in your future and hope that your dream comes true!!!!!

Dawn Marie Hamilton said...

I so agree, Kristal. Keeping our main publishing goal in mind is critical. We need to use contests as a tool to help achieve that goal. I enter contests early in the process to see if my idea has appeal and then later to get my work in front of agents/editors. Feedback needs to be put into action with care, and only when it resonates true. Voice is important. :)

Maeve said...

Excellent post, Kristal! I've both entered and judged the Golden Heart. I think judging actually taught me more. There are so many talented writers among many unique, entrancing voices. It would be a crying shame if even one of those voices lost its luster because of an experienced or ill-trained judge. Golden Heart gives only numerical scores but its good preparation for honing a manuscript. But the contest circuit can be a double-edged sword just as you explained. Well said!

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