Hey, Buttercup!

Well, the time has come for me to be honest about some things.  A few weeks ago, I announced that I had entered Harlequin’s annual So You Think You Can Write contest.   Those of you who follow my blog on a regular basis may have noticed that I have been conspicuously silent about my progress in the competition.

I washed out.  Bombed. Crashed and burned.  Didn’t even make the first cut.

It was, however, a great experience.  It forced me to really buckle down on this novel that has consumed so much of my life for so long.  It made me get excited about Her House Divided again when I had begun to lose faith in my own work, and it made me dig up enough courage to actually submit my first chapter to Harlequin’s Special Edition imprint.

Because of my participation in this contest, I have doubled the number of people I interact with on Twitter.  I have chatted with editors and published authors, and I have learned so much about writing and publishing that my brain is working on a serious overload right now.

I am okay with not making the Top 50.  After all, there were more than 650 entries. Pretty stiff competition, especially for my first try.

Then, a few days after the Top 50 were announced, there came another announcement:  Some of those finalists had been disqualified or unable to finish their manuscript in time.  A second round of names would be announced over the following days.

And all hell broke loose. All of a sudden, it seemed as though everyone I had been talking to on Twitter got “the magic email”.  Other writers left and right started posting things like “I made Top 50!” and “I’m in!”  And I was happy for them.  Really.

Okay, I was happy for most of them.

As one of the other competitors has dubbed it, I am suffering from Bridesmaid Syndrome.  I am happy for the other writers and I truly wish them all the best in the competition, but I’m also feeling a bit . . . well, not exactly jealous, but pretty darn close.  It’s not that I’m asking Why them?  It’s more a matter of my asking Why not me? 

Still, I could deal with my feelings on this.  Get up, shake it off, try to look at my work with a more critical eye, and focus on how much I have benefited from this experience.  Give me a few days and a heavy dose of Toblerone.  A week, at the most,  I’ll move on and bounce back as a better writer.

But. . .

With me, there’s always a “But”, and this is the part that’s probably going to get me in trouble.  It’s going to make me sound like I’ve got a bad case of Sour Grapes.

Writers were told from the outset that we would be expected to submit a completed manuscript if we made the Top 50,  Some were not prepared and spent those weeks scrambling to get it finished just in case.   I was still doing some major edits at that point myself.  After getting the Magic Email, some of those authors took to Twitter about the difficulties of finishing their work in time.

Mild annoyance began to kick in.  But hold on; it gets better

When the second round of contacts went out to replace the ones who dropped out, there were writers who bombarded us with constant updates. 30K words to go in two days!  Eeek!   And   No sleep, living on caffeine, gotta create another 20K by morning.

You know how that comes across to those of us who didn’t make it?  I am such a good writer that my rush-ass, slap-together, hurried writing is still better than your completed, polished, and prepared manuscript.

This is all a joke to me, and I still beat you.

I am sure these ladies don’t really feel that way.  I know they are all as thrilled and excited as I would be in their place.  But constantly whining about the difficulties of meeting this deadline is hurtful to those of us who never got the chance.  It’s like rubbing salt in our wounds.

It’s like the woman I know who lost over 100 pounds through weight loss surgery and now spends her every waking moment complaining to fat people about how hard life is now that she;s so skinny.  Wah, I’m cold because I have no body fat.  Boo-hoo, it hurts to get shots in my butt now because I have no body fat.

Honey, I think but don’t say, you still have plenty of body fat. It’s all between your ears.  Now eat a damn cheeseburger and quit your bitching.

Just like I’d like to announce to those sytycw finalists who can’t stop complaining:  if it’s such a hardship for you to finish your manuscript, then step down and make room for someone who who will appreciate it.

There are plenty of writers who would give anything to have the opportunity to submit a full manuscript for the next level of competition, but we weren’t good enough.  So forgive me if I sound like a Poor Sport, but I am sick and tired of hearing all of the whining about how difficult it is to handle being giving the chance that I didn’t get.

I’m supposed to feel sorry for someone who is unhappy about beating me?

No, I just don’t have that in me.  If that makes me a bad person, then so be it.  I’m a bad person.    But I just can’t dig down deep enough to find one ounce of sympathy for anyone who has the chutzpah to complain about how hard it is to win.

Suck it up, Buttercup.

Author: A.J. Goode

I am a romance novelist, single mother of three, and a high school lunchlady. To be completely honest, I have no idea which of those jobs is the most rewarding and which is the biggest challenge. I love them all. I write romance novels about the kind of people who might pass me on the street every day. My characters are often hurting in some way, and need to learn to trust others in order to heal themselves. I also blog about trying to focus on writing, and about my day-to-day experiences in small-town America. I write about life. The good, the bad, and the just plain odd.

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