Do you ever think that cosmos is conspiring against you to have everything go wrong, and then some? I strongly believe that was the case when I decided to enter the #SYTYCW14 Contest.
For those of you scratching your head at SYTYCW14, the abbreviation stands for So You Think You Can Write and is a yearly contest held by Harlequin to find new blood for their various series. I heard about the contest, Sept. 12 and on Sept. 13 I decided that I could do this. Sure, I didn’t have a novel written yet, but i had a solid idea in mind, solid characters and had determined I would submit under Harlequin Nocturne and started writing so I could submit within the first few days of the contest. I started writing.
The night of Sept. 14 I developed a headache, but didn’t think much of it – until the next morning. Woke up to a full blown migraine and ended up calling off work because of how bad it was. I rarely do this and was frustrated that I had to call off – but it was needed as I tried to sleep away the migraine. Sadly, that didn’t work. Come to find out I had a tension headache that morphed into a migraine and needed to do some physical therapy and other treatments to resolve that issue.
Still, I tried to write, despite the pain and got the first three chapters written before I tackled the task of writing the 100 word pitch for the contest.
If anyone tells you a pitch is easy, they are lying to you.
Between working with my test readers and rewriting, I finally got the pitch I liked, then we worked on a few changes to Chapter 1 and Chapter 2. After finishing Chapter 1 to my likings, I broke down and submitted the Pitch and Chapter 1 to the contest Sept. 27 and sent links to friends to read and comment on.
I’ll admit now, i still have tweaking to do to Chapter 1, but that won’t be released till the manuscript gets published.
Now, during all this, I had signed up for a vendor and craft fair (prior to the contest) that i was also getting stuff ready for and then attending for three weekends in a row. I was still writing, but not at the pace I wanted because I couldn’t focus between my neck and work and the fair, etc.
I finally found my writing muse and was churning out a few thousand words a night when, another unexpected event happened – a client asked if I could go to Fort Worth during the week the contest winners would be announced.
I was planning to write 10k a day on the weekend and 5k-8k words a night to complete the manuscript in case I made the Top 25 finalists. The trip changed all that. Laundry had to get done, other things that I was going to do during the week needed to be finished, etc., so nothing got written on the weekend. No sweat, I’d just have to write more when I got down to Fort Worth.
Except that didn’t happen. Monday’s drive drained me and I had no brain to write when I got in, even though I had all the ideas popping in my head loudly while I was driving. This was one of those times I wish I had a laptop with a voice recognition program that I could have had running while I was driving then I could have just narrated and cleaned up each night. Factor in I was disappointed I hadn’t gotten a call yet and yeah…demotiviation set in. The following days my brain was assaulted with the topics I was gathering for for my job and the topics really kill my fiction muse. By Thursday I was going to be heading back home, but I had a last minute meeting with another client to shoot some photos. Right after I got done with that, I saw I had an email and read it on my phone.
I had been picked as one of the top 25 finalists.
“Son of a bitch.”
Those were the exact words that were spewed from my mouth when I read that email. I knew there was no way I could complete the manuscript and I had already told myself I wasn’t going to make the finals anyhow. Yet I did. Taking a deep breath to collect myself, I called the editor, explained the situation and regretfully informed them I would be unable to submit my manuscript to complete the contest.
It was a bittersweet moment that made me extremely happy, but also had me cursing up a storm the whole drive home. Let me tell you – 9 hours of swearing and berating yourself isn’t a lot of fun, but I got it out of my system.
My brother suggested that I just get home, write till it was done. I wish I could have done that, but in my opinion, the manuscript would have been half-assed and I wouldn’t have been proud of it, so I refused to do that.
Instead, I plan to finish the manuscript, sit on it a few weeks, re-read it, edit it to my heart’s content, then submit it to Harlequin. If they accept it, great. If not, we’ll go on from there.
The contest has confirmed one thing for me, which I always knew before but kinda ignored: Editors out there liked my writing. I made it to the Top 25. That means I have a shot at being a published author.
Here’s to that dream.