Thursday, April 14, 2011

For the past three years I’ve had the privilege of working as the coordinator of the romantic suspense category of ACFW’s Genesis contest for unpublished authors. This year there were 556 entries in the nine categories. The romantic suspense category had 52 entries.
There were so many good entries. It made me glad I wasn’t a judge. It was just my job to pass the entries to the judges, record the returned scores, and answer any questions the writers might have. Semi-finalists were announced last Friday, and I had the pleasure of calling those whose manuscripts would go on to the next round. I don’t know when I’ve enjoyed anything more than to hear the surprise and joy in the voices of women I’d never met but felt an instant kinship with.
For a complete list of semi-finalists, you can go to the ACFW website. Here are the ones I had the privilege of contacting.
Emily Ann Benedict
Loretta Boyett
K. Victoria Chase
Sue Harrison
Kelli Hughett
Michelle Lim
Erynn Newman
Rajdeep Paulus
Renee Ann Smith
Pat Trainum
Katie Vorreiter
Jan Warren

Talking with them brought back memories of how excited I was when I received the call that my first book was going to be published. I could empathize with their excitement over wanting to tell friends and family right away.

As much as I enjoyed that part, though, there is a part of the contest that is very difficult. That comes afterwards when entries are returned to non-finalists. There are questions about why a certain judge marked one area low while another marked another high. I don’t have the answers to those questions just as I don’t understand why one reviewer can give a book a high rating and another can mark it low.

When that happens to one of my books, I remind myself that you can’t please everyone, but as long as I’m doing what God wants I’m okay. Then I get to work again and try to make the next book the best it can be.

Writing is a very lonely job, and it hurts when your work isn't appreciated. When I find myself wondering if my story is going in the direction it should or whether or not I can craft a story anyone will even want to read, I look for encouragement in other places. Of course prayer can bring us peace about where God wants to lead us, but He also provides us with other means to encourage us. 

One of my favorite ways to cope is to read quotes by writers. In fact I keep some of them handy to remind myself that there are others like me who toil each day with the written word. Some of my favorites are:
The task of a writer consists of being able to make something out of an idea."
Thomas Mann

"You must want to enough. Enough to take all the rejections, enough to pay the price of disappointment and discouragement while you are learning. Like any other artist you must learn your craft—then you can add all the genius you like."
Phyllis A. Whitney

"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great."
Mark Twain

To imagine yourself inside another what a story writer does in every piece of work; it is his first step, and his last too, I suppose."
Eudora Welty

"No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader."
Robert Frost

"Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It's the one and only thing you have to offer."
Barbara Kingsolver

"No, it's not a very good story—its author was too busy listening to other voices to listen as closely as he should have to the one coming from inside."
Stephen King
What about you? What inspires you to keep writing even when rejection comes?

1 comment :

  1. Very wise words, Sandra. When I directed the Noble Theme Contest (precursor to the Genesis), it was always tough to see the disappointment and, sometimes, bitterness, of those who didn't move to the next round. Critiquing another persons work can be subjective but, as hard as it is to hear it, people don't make it to the finals because their writing isn't on the level it could be. I've been there myself, frustrated with thinking my writing was better than I was being given credit for by others, only to realize now, as a multi-pubbed author that my writing was sub-par and I was kidding myself. I'm sure this revelation won't make me popular, but it's true nonetheless.

    Besides, every author knows that the secret to writing is rewriting.


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