Sunday, April 15, 2012


So this week I:

1. Was chosen to be my belly-dance instructor's flower girl at our recital during the thank-the-teacher portion of the program.
2. Got a promotion at work.*
3. Earned the top score during a game at a shooter training course. (Why yes, I do have wildly disparate interests. Thanks for noticing.)

And then my luck ran out. I had entered my manuscript in a contest sponsored by literary agent Janet Reid and knew the finalists would be announced this weekend. Not all have been announced, but they have each received a list of questions to respond to. I'd hoped to find something in my inbox tucked between the Kohl's coupons and forwards of adorable animals, but alas, nothing.

She tells us the judges had an extremely hard time choosing manuscripts. I'm among the remaining 400 or so entrants who are now sad-faced, and possibly like me pondering what exactly caused my work to be set aside. Something major? Minor? Arbitrary? Obvious? Did I make it to the final 16? 38? 91? How close did I get? Or a better question: How much farther do I need to go?

I've been watching her blog posts and learned a few things for submitting to agents/contests in the future, including that my page numbers were in the wrong place (mine were in the upper right, but they should be in the lower right. These issues were not disqualifiers to the contest, but noted for our benefit). At first I thought, really? We're worrying about things like that? But when most agents get bombarded by crap on a daily basis, you've got to stand out (in a good way). Point driven home when I got to be the one going through freelancers' resumes and encountered gems such as "Other than studying other people's work, I have very little experience as a writer/reporter." Okay. You're right. I see.

So. Fix it. Embrace the disappointment. Go do some dishes. Wrap a birthday gift. Come back to your desk, sit down and keep writing. Write some more. Are you writing? Yes, yes, yes.

Turns each day into a win.

*When I say "promotion" I mean extra title, more responsibility and no additional pay. So possibly this should not have been included on my list.


Colleen Sutherland, storyteller said...

I once heard a writer at a conference who had her manuscript accepted on the first try.

She had nothing to talk about.

You are accumulating good stories for the day you are interviewed by Oprah. Think of it that way.

Purple Houses said...

Thanks, Colleen.

Wade said...

Take the rule of page numbers at the bottom of the manuscript with a grain of salt. All standard manuscript guidelines I've seen ask for the page number in the header, upper right. If the market or agent doesn't specify otherwise in submission guidelines, it's their own fault. The agent does have submission guidelines, right? Right?

Purple Houses said...

Hi Wade,
Well, see, that's what I thought. The only submission guidelines I've seen anywhere just cover queries. When I've had manuscript requests they just say whether they want it in Word or Rich Text Format. So, yeah. There you go.

Jon said...

I'm really looking forward to hearing your thoughts when you get your work accepted. Note the use of 'when.' Paper may grown on trees, but good writing sure in the hell doesn't.

In the meantime, I enjoy your updates. Always a nice blend of insight, humility and affirmation.

Keep up the good fight (as if you have much of a choice).

p.s. your groovy furniture says hi from NorCal

Purple Houses said...

Hi Jon (and superkeen furniture)! Thanks so much -- as always I appreciate your kind words.

I will say am getting sick of this perpetual unpublished limbo crap. I mean, enough already. So the good fight is about to become a cage match. In the nicest, most professional writer-ly way, of course.