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Last week I participated in the writing event/contest Son of a Pitch. People submitted their entries, including their query and first page. This blog was a host for ten of them! Go #TeamRarity! I read and critiqued 51 entries. I read and critiqued I have no idea how many revisions. It took a long time. I enjoyed every moment.

Let’s talk for a moment about feedback. For Son of a Pitch, everyone gets some. Maybe one person dropped by your entry or five…but there was some. Better than none.

Aside: We, the feedback-givers, don’t have a set amount we have to critique. Some of the critiquers have more time to so this than others. Some people feel comfortable looking at certain categories or genres. We do the best we can.

We are leaving our opinions. Not directions. Not even answers. We comment, hoping one of those ideas will spark inspiration. That the author will have an AH-HA moment and know what is missing. If no AH-HA moment…then those comments weren’t for you.

I do know how critiques, especially if you get three or more, can mess with your head. Can make you feel like you’re failing. Can send you along the path of OH-MY-GOODNESS-WHAT-WAS-I-THINKING-I-CAN’T-WRITE.

This is NOT what we want. Yes, feedback is overwhelming…so many ideas, so many comments (some of which can contradict), so much you suddenly feel like you have to change. I HAVE BEEN THERE! WE ALL HAVE!

But, no. You don’t have to change anything.

I know that round three was fast approaching and if you were chosen to go on, then you had to have a pretty polished query and first page, so revisions were flying. But relax. Perfection is not a thing. What would be a great query for one person, isn’t for another.

Take all the information in. Let your creative brain chew on it, spit out the things that make no sense, and see what does. You have time. You can do this. In the end, listen to YOUR mind. This is YOUR story. No one knows it like you. Trust yourself. Believe in your process and in your talent.

No one will give you clear answers. We offer choices. You have to come up with the answers.

I know…’but please! Please just tell me what to do!’ The world of art is wonderful. And frustrating.

BUT WONDERFUL!

Last week was a blur. I hope you made friends. I hope you learned something. I hope you feel a little more confident. Because putting your work out there, not just in a query, but ON A BLOG, is incredibly brave. Listening to what others think is a big step.

I voted for seven, five to move on to round three and two as back-ups…for tie-breaking purposes. Voting is not my favorite thing.

I tried to vote for different genres and categories. To give the publishers looking at the entries a variety. Believe me, I wanted to vote for all the dark and weird ones. I did. Luckily other people voted for the ones I didn’t.

Let’s talk about the voting. Let’s remember how subjective this is. I had piles…yes…no…maybe…maybe leaning to yes…SO MANY PILES I WAS DROWNING.

Why were things in a no pile? Not for me…query was too confusing…I wasn’t pulled in…just not my thing.

Maybe piles…those were weird and numerous…I like the concept, but the query didn’t give me enough to know the story was there. I like the writing, but, once again, the query didn’t confirm the story arc. The query and writing were fine…and the author did revisions that improved them. Most of the time I was seriously confused. I could easily vote for all the things I wanted to read, but this wasn’t about me. This was about the publishers coming to look at them. They want different things than I do…last time they asked for more romance to get through. Romance…not really my thing. So I struggled. So I basically lined up all my notes and eeny-meeny-miny-moed it.

Not getting votes is heart-breaking. Just know that it could have been that the dart I threw landed on the one next to yours. Publishing is a strange place. So much depends on luck. So much is waiting and questioning. So much is just never giving up.

I hope everyone left last week with a stronger query. I saw a lot of them! NOW GO FORTH AND USE THEM!

Some of the people in round three will get requests. Some won’t. Some of the requests might go somewhere. Some won’t. All will go on to query. These contests help, but if you look at the number of people who get published because of them versus the amount published because of simple querying…I think querying wins.

Son of a Pitch is over…for me.

Kinda.

Round three of Son of a Pitch has begun. You can go see all the entries here, but do not comment! The comments are reserved for publishers and agents who want to request. AND I WILL BE WATCHING. I will be begging people for updates.

And I will be back for the next Son of a Pitch.

Until then…KEEP GOING! KEEP DOING YOU! KEEP LEARNING TO LISTEN TO YOURSELF! TRUST YOURSELF! And even though it’s hard…LOVE THIS CRAZY WRITING JOURNEY!

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