Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Confidence and Courage

I'm a complex person. Aren't you?

Set me in front of a group of third graders and watch me regale vast knowledge in their language.

Tempt, much less encourage me to enter a writing contest and watch me fizzle into nothing. "I can't. It's not good enough. Look at the competition. Who am I?"

Have you seen the chatter on FB, Yahoo writing groups, and blogs across the United States announcing:

The Genesis is coming!  The Genesis is coming!

The dream of a lifetime sat in my computer. 

Two weeks ago I sent encouraging notes to all who heralded they'd pressed the mighty send button and whisked their baby through cyberspace to the gates of Genesis. 

"What courage. Well done."  

In my heart I had, and still have, such respect for those brave souls.  And then I thought: someday, someday that will be me. I can't wait.

Last week a treasured friend sent me her first chapter to critique. She had put a few finishing touches on her work and wanted a fresh opinion before sending it off to the infamous Genesis land.  I read her practically perfect-sure-to-win work, sat in awe for a few moments then emailed: "You better send this one in, for sure"

        --along with a question....
                                 "Ummmm--would you read my first chapter? 
                                                         It's OK if you say 'no'. 
                                If you have the time, could you--would you--do you think it might--possibly--sorta be good enough to think about sending to Genesis--say a year from now?"

A day later she, emailed super fab suggestions. Each one a golden treasure to improve my story.  I couldn't bring myself to open the attachment, though. It had to have been splattered with corrections, suggestion, ideas, etc. Perhaps one or two words passed inspection. Gack!

I walked away from my computer and frumped to bed seeking to soothe my anxiety with someone else's well-written, published book.

At 5:00 am the next morning, my heart, mind, and fingers had been drawn from the clutches of my warm blankets, to my computer. God basically had a talk with me. "Open the attachment. Learn from what she said."  So I did--slowly. 

To my amazement, there was little red!?!  And many of the tracking notes had words of encouragement: "Good word" and "This works".

Granted my quite less than perfect chapter had many improvements and corrections noted as well, but the encouraging words she shared durng her precious free time meant the world to me. 

I sent her a thank you. To my surprise she responded later that evening:  I think you should enter the Genesis. 

This year? Really? But the due date is moments away! March 4. That's Friday! No! Dare I?

Choosing to take the risk, I scrambled to make the corrections she suggested, rewrote the whole chapter, burned the midnight oil to write a synopsis-


I did! 
I push SEND Tuesday, March 1 at 7:15 pm Mountain Time.

Have you? 

If not Genesis then what about a different contest?  Maybe you need the courage to finish your WIP, send it to a publisher, find an editor, or start a new work. You can do this. We, here at the Alley, are your cheerleaders, an ear, and your supporter.  

What will you leap out and do--starting today?

Joshua 1: 9  "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Photo Thanks to


Laura S. said...

It's funny how writers are always on a rollercoaster of emotions, isn't it? We are complex individuals! Good luck in the contest!!!

Casey said...

You did??? MARY I AM SO PROUD OF YOU!!! :D I'm not entering the Genesis this year, but I am going to enter The Frasier. Which is going to take courage in itself for sure!! But what a great post, I love your voice. :) Can't wait to hear it in person someday. :)

Mary Vee Writer said...

I think its a comfort zone thing. The more we submit and see the benefits of criticism, the more comfortable it will feel. I plan to be really good at submitting and utilizing criticism. Bring it on!

Mary Vee Writer said...

Thanks. I was gently nudged out of the nest by an encourager:)
BTW all...tune in tomorrow to read about the Frasier in Casey's post.

Wendy Paine Miller said...

Woo Hoo for pushing send and throwing it out there. It emboldens us, teaches us and can only make us stronger!

I'm proud, so proud!
~ Wendy

Gia Cooper said...

I did submit to the Genesis this year. The only anxiety I had over it was making sure that everything matched the guidelines to a 'T'...and I am pretty sure that they did. I hope.

Mary Vee Writer said...

Fantastic, Gia.
There were lots of rules...but each one made sense.
AND because you were so careful, I'm sure you followed the a T :)
Good Luck:)

Mary Vee Writer said...

Thanks, Wendy :)

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Yes, I hit the send button twice this year! One is a resubmission, after making revisions from last years scoresheet/critique. Because they have a speculative category this year, I decided to send my newest one. I'm sure it isn't ready, but I wanted some feedback. Contests are a great way to get some good feedback from professionals. :)

I'M PROUD OF YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ralene said...


I finally hit the "send" button this year, after two years of chickening out. I made up excuses of "not enough time", "not quite up to par", etc. Not this year, I put on my big-girl pants and sent it in!

I'm so glad to know I wasn't the only one over anxious. lol... Good luck!

Misha Gerrick said...

Great post!

I pray that you do well. :-)

Mary Vee Writer said...

You are an inspiration. 2!

AND an encouager: resubbmitting after making corrections.


A new goal for me for next year. In your footsteps:)

Mary Vee Writer said...

1st: forgive the typo above...I do know how to spell encourager...:)

I'm so excited for you. What category?
I see festive balloons rising...wahoo...time to celebrate:)

Mary Vee Writer said...

Thanks Misha.
Good to see you here today:)

Pepper said...

Great post, Mary.
I think I'm going to send in one more tonight.
Your crits were a great help to me.
So were Casey's and Sherrinda's.
It is a marvelous blessing to have buddies who are willing to treat our babies with precious care, but still give us good information about how to improve them.

Good luck to everyone entered.
Woohoooo! Go Sherrinda, Mary, & Ralene!

Ralene said...

Mine is in the Speculative category...uh-oh Sherrinda is my competition. Great. Just great. :P

Mary Vee Writer said...

Gotta love competition. Why does September have to be so far away?

Mary Vee Writer said...

We are so blessed:)
I've appreciated all your help, too.
How exciting for all who compete, or submit their work to publishers!

Ralene said...

September? I'm still waiting on April. lol... Gotta make the semifinals first!

Pepper said...

Just clicked submit for the final time.
And we're off.... :-)

Mary Vee Writer said...

LOL Thanks Ralene.

I am so green about this Genesis Contest (pun intended) I don't know when what happens. Help! I saw that there are 3 rounds of judging but I didn't see on the site when the 3 rounds take place or give results. Somene enlighten me.

Mary Vee Writer said...

Pepper!!! Truly??
I'm dancin the snoopy dance...see me?
Your third one absolutely was a must to include........WAHOO!!!!!!!

Angie Dicken said...

Yay, Mary! I got mine out a week ago so I wouldn't risk clashing deadlines with baby time... :) In the past, I have been alone in the whole process, sans crit group or crit partner...and then dealt with my anxiousness by sending too quickly and finding a TON of mistakes...this year, I am more confident because of the people who have encouraged and critiqued! Although, I have looked back and wished I could change some things...oh well!

Mary Vee Writer said...

I suppose in our excitement, most of us tend to send our work too soon...but who is to say what "too soon" is? Even the best authors get edits from publishers.
Wishing we could go back and make changes...means we care:)

And YAY! for you too. A week ago! Way to go. Good luck.

Ralene said...

Without going back and doublechecking the ACFW site--First round should be notified on or around April 8, the second round mid-May, and then of course the top 3 have to wait until Sept.