Writers love contests, largely because being named a finalist gives us outside validation that our books are indeed good books. Oh sure, we’ll give great pep talks about how internal validation is better, that our loving our stories is all that matters, but deep down most of us know we’re talking smack. We want – no need – to know that our readers like our stories too.
Tomorrow, RWA will announce the finalists for the annual RITA*contest. Traditionally, the RITA has been our biggest, most prestigious award. For most of us, this means spending the day listening for the phone and refreshing our browser to read the updated finalist list. Those who don’t final will cheer their colleagues. They will also nurse the heavy feeling of disappointment and remind themselves that there’s always next year.
Truth is though, the RITA is only a contest. It is not the ultimate judgement on you or your writing. Plenty of great authors have never won a RITA. (The incomparable Linda Howard comes to mind.) The RITA is, however, a crap shoot. The opinion of five random judges. There are a lot of readers with a lot of different tastes out there. There is also a lot of politics going on in our industry right now. Both these factors affect your odds.
Or so I tell myself. Do I want to get a phone call tomorrow? Hell, yes. Will I be disappointed if I don’t. Hell yes, again. After all, I’m only human. But I am doing my darnedest to keep perspective by reminding myself that the world won’t end if I don’t get a phone call.
In the meantime, good luck to all my colleagues who will be distracted tomorrow along with me. Repeat after me: We’re all winners, no matter what.
PS: I don’t plan to clutter this blog with too many industry posts, but these thoughts needed to get out. See you next week with more A MILLIONAIRE FOR CINDERELLA quotes, and some info on what I’m working on now.