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