Let's face it: when we enter a contest, we're in it to win. And when we final, or actually win, we can't wait to tell the world how God has once again confirmed our calling in life. Because...hello... winning a writing contest is definitely confirmation that God wants us to write.
But wait a minute.
What about those who don't win? Or don't final? Are they receiving confirmation too? Confirmation from God that they should throw in the towel, send their WIP's to the recycle bin and sell their ninety-four writing reference books on eBay?
I don't think so.
And I'm not just saying that because I just found out I placed fourth out of four finalists in a recent chick lit contest. Trust me - for about an hour after I got the news, I seriously considered the aforementioned options. I honestly thought I had a chance at taking first place. And when I learned I didn't, I was devastated.
But, as a few beloved friends reminded me, contests are subjective. And judges are human too (which I was really relieved to hear because if a four-legged animal scored my entry dead last, it may just have pushed me over the edge).
After entertaining thoughts of quitting for good, I have decided to keep plugging away at my manuscript. For two reasons.
One: I like the story. Yes, it needs work. It needs revision. But I like my style and my voice. I really think it has a place...somewhere...in Christian publishing. In fact, the judging agent requested the full manuscript (which brings me to a whole other topic of WAY differing opinions from two judges reading the same manuscript. That's for another day). But I am trying to keep reminding myself that there are other people besides my mom and me who really do like my story.
Two: God wants me to. And I don't say that glibly. I truly believe writing is one of my callings in life and I am determined to follow it. Regardless of how my manuscript placed in this contest. (And in case you're wondering, yes, I really am thankful I finalled at all, even though it doesn't seem like it at the moment).
The thing I'm taking away from this experience is not only a tougher skin - which is mandatory in this business. I'm also developing a more tender heart. Tender to what God is trying to teach me. Maybe it's something technical about my writing itself. Maybe it's just to simply trust that He knows what's best for me. And winning wouldn't be it this time.
There is a time to win and a time to be humbled. And neither affects our God-given purpose.
Yes, winning would have been nice. But God has a purpose for my writing, regardless. And my heart confirms it.
So what about you? Has winning (or not winning) a contest changed your perspective? If you came in dead last, would you still believe God has a purpose for your writing or would you be tempted to give up on your dream?