"God moves in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform..." William Cowper

Monday, June 4, 2012

Contests, Contests, Contests!

Up until recently, I thought I’d long ago accepted that contests are to be a part of my writing life. Then, last week happened.

I chose three contests to enter this year: ACFW’s Genesis Contest, My Book Therapy’s The Frasier Contest, and the contest that Re:Write is offering in collaboration with Tyndale.

In April I found out that the manuscript I’m currently pitching to agents was a semi-finalist in the Genesis contest. I had high hopes for a final that might boost my manuscript out of the dreaded slushpile. But a final was not to be, as I found out last Thursday.

I immediately sank into the doldrums. I had worked so hard. This was the fifth year I’d entered the Genesis. I didn’t have a clue how to make my story any stronger. Did God want me to write for Him or didn’t He?

I woke up from a restless sleep on Friday morning and hit the pavement for a run and for some time with God.

Jesus, I know I wouldn’t be so dejected if I only looked to you for what I need. Forgive me. I’ve made an idol out of writing. Help me to want you more than anything or anyone else. May I look to you for true satisfaction.

I didn’t feel peace right away. My idol was still there, teasing me, taunting me. But I’d recognized it for what it was and in that, I felt victory. And acceptance. Acceptance that God knows what is best for me and I do have all I need in Him—even if I often act like I don’t. I preached truth to myself.

Later that afternoon I received a call from Susan May Warren informing me of my final in The Frasier Contest. I cried happy tears.

The emotional rollercoaster this past week was enough to make me swear off contests forever. But giving up contests won’t solve the problem. If I’m to pursue a career in publishing, both the disappointments and the victories will always be there—they are not limited to contests.

A disappointment in a critique partner’s criticism, a victory in their praise.

A disappointment in an agent’s rejection, a victory in their request to see a full manuscript.

And those experiences I have yet to know…a disappointment in a bad review, a victory in a three-book contract.

A disappointment in low book sales, a victory in a reader’s kind note.

I cannot let the ups and downs of this amazing journey rule my life. I refuse to let them. I cannot make an idol of writing. I can only put first things first—Jesus—and the rest will follow.

Do you have any contest wisdom (or any wisdom!) you wish to share?

photo credit: flickr


  1. Oh, Heidi! I know all about those ups and downs. When I entered the Genesis for the first time a few years back, my scores were...pretty bad. It was rough. But it made me work harder. It also made me realize I wasn't writing in the best genre for me. So, good came out of it, and for that I'm grateful.

    I know we all hear that things happen for a reason, but I believe that whole-heartedly (even if it's hard to see the reason right away).

    Congrats on the final in the Frasier!

    1. Thanks for your wisdom, Cindy. I definitely value the feedback we're able to get from these contests. Thanks for the congrats--and congrats again to you! Hope to meet you in September!

  2. Heidi,

    I love your heart and post! You're absolutely right about disappointments and victories being a part of the writing life! I'm discovering that oh so quickly. Thanks for reminding me that our focus needs to be Christ!

    And congrats on the final in the Frasier! I'm rooting for you, girl! I truly believe the Lord will open a door for you in His perfect timing.

    Love you!

    1. Love you too, Melanie! Thanks so much for your encouragement!

  3. Great post and congrats on your Frasier Final. :) I recently found out the bad news about not finaling in Genesis, too, so I can totally relate. It's encouraging to semi-final, and I'm holding onto that for now.

    Contests are nerve-wracking, but I know I've improved so much. It's worth it. Thanks for the encoragement. :)

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by, Barbara! And congrats on your semi-final--that is also a great accomplishment.

      Let's keep persevering! I often think of Hebrews 12:1 "...Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."

      Many blessings to you and your writing, Barbara!

  4. Heidi, your words resonate with me. I haven't gotten as far as submitting my manuscript, but I've already experienced the highs and lows associated with writing and putting your heart and soul out there for the world to see. Just blogging alone has its highs and lows. I love knowing I am not alone in my struggles. Thanks for being open and transparent.

    1. Thanks so much for coming by, Gabrielle! There is certainly a sense of vulnerability we get when putting our words out for the world to see. We can all relate. I think if we're striving to honor God first with our writing then we can be confident in Him rather than our own words.

      Thanks so much for the encouragement and I wish you all the best in your own writing!

  5. I entered the Genesis and the Frasier and didn't place in anything. At first, that was a blow.

    But then I realized (and am still realizing!)...there are so many highs and lows in the writing journey...and I only started on this path less than a year ago.

    I'm realizing that my CENTER has to be on God...the unchanging one. If I keep it there, then no matter what happens in my writing career, I stay grounded.

  6. Oh, and congrats on finaling in the Frasier! So exciting!

    1. Thanks so much Lindsay!

      It is a blow at first. But I find it so encouraging that writing is a craft we can learn. We just need to persevere and do our part and leave the rest up to God.

      Many blessings on you and your writing!

  7. Wonderful post. No matter where we are on this road, you are absolutely right. Up and down and up and down. But Jesus is constant. I'm letting Him deal with the ups and downs - while I try to stay steady with HIm.

  8. Amen, Heidi. You are so wise. I know all about those ups and downs you've experienced, and they don't get any better...The nature of them just changes. Getting ourselves grounded now is crucial to staying in God's will.

    1. LOL, Sarah. The only wisdom I have comes from God. :)

      You're so right, it's just the nature of the ups and downs that change--I think I'm finally realizing that.