I'm sure I'll regret the title of today's post once I start getting clicks from odd google searches. No matter. The title is apropos.
You see, I (almost) never enter online writing contests. Sometimes it's because the prize isn't something I really need, such as a query critique by an agent who has already asked for my full. Sometimes it's because the prize isn't something I really want, like a goody bag filled with romance novels (not my cup of tea). And sometimes it's because I don't want to throw my work into that particular public venue.
And then Christine Nguyen hogtied and dragged me into a wee contest that has had me in knots ever since.
(It's okay. She knows I love her anyway.)
Honestly? It's not a big deal sort of contest. It's clever and fun, but not earthshattering. So I didn't think I was putting a whole lot on the line when I succumbed to Christine's (mild) pressure.
And then the waiting began. And I started to experience regular stomach droppage. So silly.
I mean, really.
So here is what I've realized about online contests vs. actual querying: The latter is a business decision, couched in professional terms and not open to public viewing. The former is, well, a contest, couched in lottery terms and open for the hungry eyes of everyone who participates.
Querying makes me a serious writer who has taken the scary-at-first step of throwing my work out there. Contesting makes me nauseous.
So says the woman who runs regular contests on her blog! And since the Secret Agent contests began in 2008, I have entered twice. Both times, it was simply a matter of things working out that way, since I made the decision early on to not "steal" a spot in the contest from my readers. Most recently, I entered because I messed up and ended up with an empty slot. The contest was closed, the alternates used up, and there sat the glaring blank spot. That would have meant certain mutiny, so I filled it at the last minute with my own work. And was duly uptight along with the other 49 entrants.
All that to say--I'm feeling naked and vulnerable. All because of THIS CONTEST.
Christine and I both made the first cut. Well, ONE of my entries made it. And since this particular opening isn't a flash-bang-rip-your-heart-out kind of scene, I don't expect to make it much further. Honestly? It's fun and not too threatening. My Dream Agent isn't sitting at the other end dangling a full manuscript critique. (I'd be catatonic by now if that were the case.)
I find, however, that I am now questioning my own definition of "fun." This is like an online reality show, with 25 fewer people left to play each week. Absolute torture. At least the Secret Agent contests are over in a week. Slightly less torturous. Yes?
Anyway. Contests can be great fun and they can help us develop nerves of kryptonite. But in the end? I'm going to focus my energy and time (and nerves) into querying agents. And NOT refreshing contest pages in between revisions. A million times.
What about contests and you? Love 'em? Hate 'em? Run 'em?? Share!