|The Denver Grand Hyatt Hotel|
I've never been a fan of the cliche "everything's relative," because I don't believe everything is. There are some absolutes in this life. However, I recently had an experience that helps me understand how the cliche came to be.
Three weeks ago, I got an email that almost made me fall off my chair. It was from the Jerry Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. They were announcing the top ten semi-finalists in their 2010 “Operation First Novel” contest. One grand prize winner (to be announced at their writers conference in Denver) will receive $20,000 and a publishing contract with Tyndale House. Included in this top ten list was a book called "The Silver Suitcase." Which wouldn't be of any particular significance to me, except....
I wrote that book.
I could not believe my eyes! Within the hour, I had posted the news on Facebook, got a bunch of congratulatory comments from friends, and received a phone call from my mother. I went to bed that night convinced it was all a dream.
I had a week to kill before they announced the top five, but I thought the week might kill me instead. As the days dragged on, I had a pretty strong hunch I was not going to be on that list of five. Still, it was a bummer to find out I was right. I will not be the person taking home the big publishing contract.
However, I've decided top ten is a wonderful place to be sitting and will attend their writers conference next week, where I hope to leverage my book's status with the publishers and agents I meet there.
Here's the thing. A year before, I had entered an earlier, shorter draft of the same novel in a smaller contest. Instead of all the drama and suspense, though, these folks declared their first through fifth place winners all in one announcement. I cried when I didn't make that list at all. Yet for all I know, I could have placed sixth.
For all I know, I could have placed tenth in the one everybody's celebrating.
It's all relative. It's all in how the game is played.
I've learned a lot in the months between the two contests. This writing business is an emotional roller coaster and you better buckle up for the ride! I figured out awhile back the difference between my part and God's part. My part is to keep writing, keep learning, and keep putting stuff "out there." God's part is what I have no control over: who reads it, who likes it, who publishes it, and when. If ever. Understanding this difference is the thing that keeps me plugging away at my own part and keeps me sane. Yes, even while writing "out of my mind."
Meanwhile, I'm off to Colorado for the writers conference Feb. 10-13 and would love to think my readers back home are rooting for me. Even if I don't get any nibbles from a publisher or agent, I know I'll learn a lot in the various sessions offered.
The artist in me is soaring on the wind, the disciple in me is praying like crazy, and the bumpkin in me is wetting her pants.