It stung a bit that I wasn’t in the semi-finals. This was my year—I was sure of it.
But as I’ve come to realize over the past few days of pondering, that thought is perhaps the very reason why I didn’t final.
I have a tendency in life to work very hard, excel my expectations and then coast for a while until the ground falls out from under me. It’s a habit I’ve known about my whole life and constantly combat.
But lately, I’ve been coasting with my writing. I haven’t been pushing myself and holding myself to even higher standards. I’d signed with the agent of my dreams! I had to have it made. It would only be easier.
Wrong. I know I was wrong. I know the life of an author is far from easy—any author blog will set you straight. I’d fallen into that smooth sailing again.
So when I got my scores back from two different entries, I was taken aback. What? I’m a better writer than this! How dare these judges say such things!
But with a step backward, I realized what I was missing. The judges all had valid points, especially when I detached my emotional ties to the manuscript. It was a push I desperately needed. There were also some very nice compliments and encouraging notes that I can defer to on a down day.
I’ve always loved the sight of red pen on my stories. Ever since my days of a news reporter for the college paper—once I learned to get over myself and realize the wisdom of those more experienced. That is the blessing of contests. Judges with much more knowledge and time invested in the profession than I giving me their honest opinion. No reservations, no fluff.
So it’s time to pick myself up and quit coasting. Creativity takes work—active, mind-numbing work, day in and day out. Push yourself, if this is something you love. Whatever your passion. Don’t coast.
(PS…Long headline, I know. As a former news editor, I cringe.)