It's funny how the littlest something can make a godawful, wish-I-was-anyone-but-me kind of day a little brighter.
I'm a member of NJRW (New Jersey Romance Writers, in case you really wanted to know) and every year, they hold a great contest for unpublished writers. I used to enter it back in the day and it is one of the best ones out there. The judges gave me feedback that I could actually use and were one of the most critical factors in my going from unpubbed to published author.
As a member who's a published author, I can now judge in that same contest and I have for the last three years. I look forward to it because some of the entries I've read were absolutely fantastic. I've commented on them that I wished I could read the rest, that's how good they were. And I try to give as much feedback as time and space allow.
Now, not every entry is good. Some are obviously first-draft quality and those really tick me off. If you know you're going to enter this contest, at least make it look like you did something more than the rough draft and - for God's sake - spell your main characters' names consistently!
Some entries aren't first draft, but they are still missing a huge something. Ok - not as bad. Frustrating when the idea is a great one, but at least it's something that I can build on. Cool. I write until my hand cramps and my pen runs out of ink. Actually, I do pencil first, put the entry aside for a few days, re-read and change comments as needed. Sometimes I've been a little nasty or sarcastic, or I was tired and what I originally read wasn't what was actually on the paper. Hey, nobody's perfect, right?
But sometimes, you get really good stuff. I mean really good. But with a few problems. Ok - again, not a problem.
But no matter how good or horrible the writing is, I comment out the wazoo because I think it really helps. I don't know about anyone else, but I'd rather hear constructive criticism than just bland 'really good' nonsense. Sure, the criticism can sting, but in the long run, I think it can make a work so much stronger - as long as it's not nitpicky for nitpicky's sake. (And believe me, I've been a victim of this. You look down and grumble, Does it matter what size shoe the hero wears???).
So anyway - I was having the day from hell this morning. Absolute hell. Nothing is going right. I get up late. My daughter's sick. My son's diaper leaked through his pajamas. Now I can't find my daughter's shoes (what the hell are they doing in the dress up box in her closet????). The coffee's too strong and so I put too much sugar in. Then, after I get the kids in the car to drop my daughter at her busstop, she's moaning the bone because I fastened the seat belt and she wanted to - you know, stuff like that...
OK - then the mail comes and there's never anything good in the mail, right? Bills, the TV Guide (ok, that's good. And what the hell is with my keyboard tonight??? All of the keys seem to have moved one down from their normal place.)
but i digress...
The mail comes and in it is a small white envelope. Addressed to moi??? Do I even dare?
It's a thank you note from one of the entrants from NJRW's Put Your Heart in a Book Contest.
I'm floored, to say the least, as this is the first time anyone's ever thanked me for taking the time out of my life and out of my writing schedule, to judge their work. Damn, it was a great feeling - and I remember the entry. It was good. The writer finalled, but I'd have to go back to see if she won. Actually, I'd have to look to see if the winners were posted. My life's been a zoo of writing, editing, and such. I'm lucky I remember my kids' names and even that's only after I've gone through my husband's, the dog, the cat.... well, you get the point.
I think I'll hold on to this. It ranks up there with my first fan letter for feel-good moments.
OK - I'm beat. I've been working like crazy and my day starts all over again in about 6 hrs. I'd best toddle off to bed. Guess this wasn't quite as quick as I thought.