I had the privilege of recently attending Storymakers – a fabulous writing conference with about 750 writers, editors, and more in Utah County, UT. The friendship and support I gained was awesome, the instruction in the classes was top-notch and in some cases down right bind-blowing, and I even had the opportunity to participate in their first chapter contest with two of my WIPs (Song of the Sapien, and Types, Shadows, and Casseroles: Finding Christ in All Things). The contest deadline was back in the beginning of February, and it cost $20 per entry, but everyone was was a winner because for only $20, you were guaranteed at least three industry professionals would read your chapter and give you feed back on it. What a bargain!
I had to wait three months from the time I submitted until the winners were announced, and I was a little disappointed when Song of the Sapien, didn’t place in the YA Sci-fi/Dystopian category. (Not that I was surprised though. The contest had over 300 entries spread out over 10 categories.) But I still “won” that feedback, and it revealed some pretty interesting things.
First, there was one judge who in the seven categories scored me as follows:
10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 9, 10. That’s right. 69 out of 70 possible points.
Now, if you’re like me and that’s the first judge’s marks you see, and there is glowing praise written out next to each score as well, you might be inclined to think: “How the heck did this not place?”
Another judge said: 10, 9, 7, 8, 9, 9, 10. 62 out of 70. Still not too shabby!
Cue the last judge’s page: 10, 5, 5, 6, 7, 8, 7. Only 48 out of 70. That’s a solid D+. Ouch!
Wait. Back it up. You mean to tell me that where the first judge gave me 10s, this other one gave me 5s and 6s? And the one category the first judge marked lower than the others, is the one category this judge scored higher than the others? What the heck does that mean?
It means that in writing, as well as life, we won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s okay. Because while we aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, we will eventually find that we are somebody’s cup of tea. And that’s the only person who matters.
So does the discrepancy bother me? Not at all. It’s life. And it’s an important fact of life to be reminded about because some manuscripts will be rejected by agents and editors over and over again. But it just takes one who likes it. This is why we have genres, this is why there is room for everyone in this industry. Because art isn’t a limited field. Tastes vary from person to person and there is room for every unique flavor. And the judge that gave me the lower scores? I think they pointed out some very valid things. Once I finish the manuscript and start editing, I think implementing their suggestions will only strengthen the story and quality of my writing.
Now, those of you still paying attention might recall that I entered two chapters. Well, I am happy to report that while Song of the Sapien didn’t place in the YA Sci-fi/Dystopian category, Types, Shadows, and Casseroles: Finding Christ in All Things took third place in the non-fiction category. Woohoo!
You are officially reading the blog of a contest-winning author. Woohoo! Aside from the obvious fame and glory and the epic certificate you see above, I also won a small cash prize which was just enough to recoup the cost of entering the contest in the first place. Which means I have enough to enter again next year…once I implement the judge’s advice of course!