This week I’ve been dealing with a nasty case of contest fever. For those of you unfamiliar with contest fever, think in terms of wedding fever and you’ll get the gist of it. Wedding fever (like contest fever) is a highly contagious disease that spreads through a female circle of friends (the 18 – 30 group is most susceptible). Symptoms include: trying on wedding dresses (entering every contest that comes down the pike), getting glassy-eyed at the thought of walking down the aisle (dreaming of fame and fortune when you hit the NYT Best Seller’s list).
It’s not that the afflicted isn’t genuinely happy for her friend the bride (writing buddy), she is! But somewhere deep inside there’s a bit of longing and yes, maybe even a touch of envy. Ready or not, she wants that, too.
I thought I was immune to both diseases, of course. The ladies have been collectively entering (and finaling and winning) contests for some time. It was easy to sit on the sidelines and root for my friends because I was genuinely happy for them, but also because I wasn’t there yet. Heck, I’ve been tight-fisted as hell with my draft of Cheyenne, determined not to solicit any feedback until I had the story down from start to finish.
Then, Jeanne finaled in the Golden Heart (the Lady Diana contest extravaganza for the unpublished). This was huge! I was excited for Jeanne, thrilled that she was on her way. She’d worked long and hard and no one deserved it more than she. I (and the rest of the ladies) were the writer’s equivalent of bridesmaids. We stood around her as she began her journey down the aisle, happy, supportive and wallowing in her joy. It was just a matter of time and the rest of us would walk that walk.
Then, I heard about the Wisconsin Fab5 contest. It wasn’t the GH by any stretch, but hey (I thought) it didn’t require a synopsis and the entry fee was relatively small. I immediately entered (If the GH is a wedding, Fab5 is a prom), and then pretty much forgot about it.
The finalists for the Fab5 contest were announced last Saturday night at the Wisconsin RWA chapter conference. On Sunday, I found myself compulsively checking my email for notification that I’d finaled. By Monday, I was still checking (and googling for a list of finalists), but hope was waning. By Tuesday, despair set in. I couldn’t deny it now. It was over and I didn’t final. Wallow, wallow, ding-dong. To quote Sally Field (sort of): “You don’t like me, you really don’t like me!”
I’ll be honest here. I felt bad. Gut wrenching, “I suck and I’ll never write again and I want to crawl into bed and never get up.” bad. I hadn’t realized how much I’d wanted to final in that contest! Damn it, I needed it! Wait. What? Had I become an alcoholic with the DT’s? A crazed bridesmaid so smitten with the idea of the wedding that I was ready to marry my best friend’s cousin Curtis? The one with the beerbelly and the receding hairline?
Nope. Just a touch of Contest Fever that was quickly cooled by:
- Reading Justine’s post “Five Things I’ve Learned From Contests.
- Looking at my own personal reality. I’m not ready to submit my work, yet. Period. My story is progressing in an extremely good way. That’s enough for now.
- Remembering that writing = rejection. Yeah, contests aren’t the same as submitting, but they can dish out a type of rejection. Dealing with it is good experience for the future.
- Reading this awesome post by Chuck Wendig that put it all in perspective and made me laugh about this crazy writing thing.
- Applauding the finalists/winners: Jeanne E. finaled in the Wisconsin Fab5 (at least the judges weren’t all blind!). She deserves it, and my hearty congrats go out to her.
How do you deal with contest fever?