Updated: Apr 11, 2019
My mind is officially blown. After Nanowrimo 2018 (I actually won this year) I had the roughest of rough first drafts of a 50k YA fantasy novel. Immediately after finishing Nano I knew I needed a short break so I could come back to the story objectively in editing mode so that I could unscrupulously destroy and remake my novel until it was shiny and new. However, in the process of doing that my unfinished first novel was calling to me from the void of my laptop files and I ended up spiraling and seeking closure for that story instead of divesting my time and energy appropriately on my new book.
This is all to build up to the tagline for this article. When I was researching writing retreats and conferences earlier this year I came across the When Words Count Retreat in Vermont but it being so far away and so expensive I signed up for a newsletter (so I could dream of attending one day) and moved on. Until the other day when I got an email asking for submission to their Pitch Week Competition that they hold a couple times each year and thought... you know what... why not? Obviously, I wouldn't get a spot since my work was so unrefined, but maybe they could give me some feedback that would jump start my project again for me. So, as a courtesy I decided to do a perfunctory skim of the first ten pages required for submission and take out as many adverbs, filler words, and passive voice indicators as I could and sent the email into the void with a short, whispered prayer.
Then the craziest thing happened... they shortlisted me.
I was one of seven people vying for a spot in their Pitch Week Competition and the entire time I couldn't help but think... really? I hadn't spent years or even weeks refining and editing the story. I didn't even know if some of the characters consistently had the same surnames or eye colors throughout the work. But, after a phone call with the director Steve Eisner I quickly realized something that I hadn't yet acknowledged before.
I had talent. Correction. HAVE talent. My husband and my mother for years had been telling me I was good, but it never seemed quite good enough. This contest is no joke, it's a ton of work and these are clearly professionals. Steve could tell the work was rough but most importantly that it has potential. For someone who struggles with impostor syndrome compounded by my OCD tendencies and unmedicated ADHD these simple facts were incredibly hard to swallow. In short, one email and a short phone call changed my entire outlook and perspective. Right when I was struggling the most to stay dedicated, this positive experience came through when I needed it the most.
So, after talking with Jon and Steve, I've decided to dive in headfirst. It'll be hard to get the book up to snuff in time, but if I don't take a chance on myself... well, why should anyone else? Some people have expressed concerns: Is it a scam? How do you know? Will you be safe? Well, after my research and experiences with Steve and his team, I can honestly say I'm feeling confident about my chances in the contest and the validity of the program. I will be updating and reviewing throughout the process and when I travel to Vermont later this year, so keep tuned.
But, just for right now, let's celebrate for a second. HOLY CRAP, I'M IN A WRITING COMPETITION AND HAVE THE CHANCE TO BE PUBLISHED!!!!!!! IS THIS FOR REAL?!?!?!?!?!?!?!