I love being a writer. It’s exciting. I enjoy the creation of an idea. I love finessing the words until they flow just so, working with their rhythms. I also love being a part of the writing community and attending events like The Cabin’s Readings and Conversations where I recently listened to the engaging Elizabeth Gilbert talk about how surprised she was by her own success with eat, pray, love.
While I adore writing, it can make me bizarrely obsessive about things like specific word choices, comma placements, and sentence lengths. But despite the obsessing, I have managed to finish an 80,000 word manuscript. It has been written, critiqued by my lovely critique partners, debugged by me, and is ready for the next phase – a contest.
I’ve submitted my opening chapter to the TARA contest. I was apprehensive as I pushed the upload button. Contest judges have the power to validate our work or crush our writer-egos, but aren’t they just anonymous critique partners? My previous and current critique partners have been invaluable. They’ve helped me take my ability to write and use it to tell a story. So, an anonymous critique by a contest judge is just another tool that will help me hone this craft – perfect my skill.
It also opens up exciting possibilities. Something spectacular could happen. I might final in a contest…perhaps even win…then the phone could ring and an agent might want to see a full…then she might want to represent me…it could get published…in hardback…then paperback…followed by a movie option…and Julia Roberts might play me…and then…(oh…uh…yeah…my manuscript isn’t a memoir—so there’s no me for Julia to play).
Ok, realistically, most of us write for the love of the craft and few, if any of us, will experience the wild success that Elizabeth Gilbert experienced with eat, pray, love. But isn’t it exciting that, by putting ourselves out there, we open ourselves to the possibility that it could?
IF YOU’RE INTERESTED IN ENTERING THE TARA: I asked contest chair Anne-Marie Carroll (who was extremely helpful to this contest newbie) some questions about the TARA, and learned the contest generally receives approximately 200 entries. Judges, who go through extensive training, use the Deitrich scale for scoring, and entrants receive feedback on their submissions. As a result of entering the TARA, some writers have sold their manuscripts and others have received requests from editors who serve as judges in the final round. If you decide to enter, be sure to end your submission on a hook, but remember not to exceed the word count. Doing so will get you disqualified. The TARA is sponsored by the Tampa Area Romance Writers. The deadline for submissions is May 1st.