I’m not a superstitious person. I don’t shiver when a black cat crosses my path. I don’t avoid walking under ladders, though I don’t often have occasion to do so. And the fact that one Friday in September falls on the thirteenth doesn’t concern me in the least. That said, I have talked before about signs. No, I’m not talking about street signs. Instead, I’m referring to those external indicators that drive a person’s response to a given situation.
I’ve often looked for signs with regard to my writing. For example, if I get several messages from readers asking me when my next book is coming out, I might take that as a sign that sales are going to be good. Today, I received a sign that I initially thought about making bad but have decided is actually good.
In reading previous posts, I’m sure you’ve noticed that I’m no stranger to participating in writing contests. I can’t remember when or why I started doing this, but I suspect it has to do with wanting to lend some credibility to my resume. Since embarking on the professional writing journey, I’ve entered countless contests. Though I’ve placed in some, I’ve never been the big winner.
Recently, I entered a contest in which my ability to write was judged by the first five hundred words of my young adult novel. Five hundred words is hardly a drop in the bucket which makes me think the judges are trying to determine if the story can hook the readers from the beginning. Today, I learned I was not one of the five authors whose story was chosen to be posted online for fans to vote for the best. This is where the signs come in.
My first reaction to this news was that my failure to advance is a sign that my writing isn’t up to snuff. This is always the first reaction I have when I don’t do well. To get over feeling sorry for myself, I remember the legions of devoted readers I have that have been patiently waiting for the release of my novel, Like You Mean It, which wasn’t the novel I entered in the contest in question. On further reflection, I realized the logic I used to end my pity party was actually a sign in and of itself and that perhaps not advancing in this contest was for the best. In fact, I think it’s a sign that I need to move on from writing contests, at least for the moment, and focus on being a writer.
Some would call this making lemonade when life gives you lemons. It probably is, but I also like to think of it as seeing the signs as they’re meant to be seen. Sure it’s spinning them in the most advantageous light, but what’s wrong with that? If you ask me, it’s better than throwing in the towel.