Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The anti-climax: waiting for the verdict

Not NowOn the last day of the SCBWI conference, a representative from Amazon took the stage to announce Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award (aka ABNA). I sat there next to my mom and pretended to be invisible, but she nudged me back into reality and told me since I had a manuscript sitting around, I might as well send it in. What's the worst thing that could happen?

I was so sure I'd be eliminated on the first round when they just looked at the pitch, but no! I made it to the second round. Of course, I thought, as soon as they actually read what I submitted, they'll say, "Oh forget this!" But, they didn't, so I made it to the third round. Now, I've been in the mix for long enough that I feel pressure to stay in the mix. The pathetic part is that as a writer, once I package up a manuscript and send it to someone, I've done my big part. It's up to the reader to decide whether or not my creation is worthy of her attention. I feel like I'm back in high school and participating in the costume competition at Shakespeare Fest: by the time you arrive, you're done. In a way, writing beats running marathons, acting, and dancing. At least I don't wear myself out dealing with whatever happens in the moment, but waiting is crappy in its own way.

It's not like I spend all my free time checking the reviews for my entry on Amazon. (Did I mention you can read it for free and rate it here?) I'm also finishing a rewrite of the novel that's up there now to see if I can make it more marketable by aging the characters down a little. I attend workshops where other writers rip my work to shreds and tell me they don't connect with this, that or the other thing. Some of them. Want. Short. Sentences. To convey. A faster pace. Others, don't like adjectives. Folks, adjectives are fine. It's the adverbs you have to worry about. Sometimes, I walk into my local B&N, breathe in the new book smell and wander over to the teen section. Then, I have a good cry and move on to the self help section where I start re-reading something by Shakti Gawain.

Even outside of my creative life, I've dealt with competition and disappointment. It's pretty pathetic getting passed up for a job you're not even that crazy about. Rejection always sucks. Disappointment sucks. I know I can cope with it. I've had a lot of practice lately, but I'm not in a hurry to experience more of it.

[For those of you who do not have Kindles, I will try to post a PDF version of the ABNA excerpt here so you can download it and view it on the Nook and other e-readers, or your computer. I will post an update when the file is up.]