I Didn’t Win

TNBW’s 2010 Strongest Start Competition for the Romance Category.  It really doesn’t come as a surprise, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck.  Apparently Twenty-Five, the only book I’ve been able to actually finish, is a victim of first book syndrome.  It will never get anywhere because it just isn’t good.  I should put it in a drawer and work on other projects, but it’s so hard to get the characters out of my head.  Ben is the only character I have left who still talks to me- and that’s with 6 or 7 different projects that I’ve started.  Everyone else seems to have thrown in the towel, I think they want me to throw in the towel too.

I don’t want to.

But I’m worried I’m going to have to.

No, I won’t.

I don’t want to be a quitter. But what if this isn’t right?  What if I really do suck?  What if I’m not supposed to be a writer?

Do you enjoy it?

When I actually have time to do it, yes.

Then what makes you think you aren’t supposed to be a writer?

I suck.

Everyone sucks.

Touche.  But I mean, I suck at THIS.  I suck at writing.  I get told all the time that my stories aren’t original, no one seems to “get” what I’m trying to say.

You don’t suck.

Yes, I do.

I’m going to smack you.

You won’t be the first one who’s threatened to do that.

I’ll be the first one to follow through.

No, you won’t.  Because you are me.  And I never follow through on anything.

That’s not true!

Sure it is.  Look at me.  I graduated college Summa Cum Laude with a degree in Criminal Justice.  Have I EVER pursued a career in criminal justice?

You applied to law school.

But I didn’t go.

Do you regret that?



Because then maybe I’d be doing something worth while.

You think your life isn’t worth while?


Why not?

Why not?  Why not?  Because I’m stuck.  I work three jobs and I still can’t afford to live on my own.  I’m tired and grumpy all the time.  No guy has ever wanted to be with me and I truly believe no guy ever will.  Nothing I do makes any difference whatsoever.  My writing is crap, I don’t even know why I try.

Isn’t it true that more people tell you they like your writing than tell you they dislike it?

Technically, I suppose.

Technically, you suppose?  You are infuriating.  Why can’t you believe in yourself more?

Because there’s nothing to believe in.

Yes, there is.

No, there isn’t.

We’ve been here before.

And we’ll be back again.

Why did you enter the contest in the first place?

I was hoping to get some validation, I suppose.  Something quantifiable.  I’ve never won a single contest I’ve entered, writing or otherwise.  I just wanted to feel like I could do something right.  That I could be a winner.  I thought maybe Twenty-Five would have a shot.  I was wrong.

It made it to the finals.

The finals isn’t winning.

It’s closer than losing.

Well, aren’t you clever?

I like to think so.

Do you really think I can ever get anywhere with this?  Is there even a chance that someone out there will ever think that my writing is great, or at least good enough?




But not all the time?

Well, of course I have doubts.  I’m you.  You’re me.  You’re having this conversation with yourself, idiot.

I AM an idiot.

And you’d be hella boring if you weren’t one.

Thanks for that.

You’re welcome.

But a little thing that made me happy today:  My friend, Ang, DID win the Strongest Start Competition in the Romance Category.  Congratulations Ang!  You’re an amazing writer and I’m happy to call you a friend!

14 thoughts on “I Didn’t Win

  1. I am so sorry about the competition Rachel. Is it important? No, I truly don’t believe it is. Does it suck? Yes it does… I should know, I have never won a single competition about anything in my life… 🙂 But remember (and listen to that voice speaking inside your head- she is wise and knows what she’s talking about) you made the finals and that’s big!
    The dilemma you’re going through right now, this is exactly how I feel every time I hear a criticism about my book or anything I write…
    Don’t let it get to you! There is no such rule as ‘the firsts books are never good’-if you believe the book is good then that’s that.
    I also finished law school but didn’t peruse that career. We made a choice, for better or worse, and now we have to move forward…
    And about being original… No one can say anything original, it’s all been said and done so many times. You just say what you want to say and how you want to say it and it’ll be original. No body understood what Joyce, Faulkner and Woolf were trying to say either…

    1. No, in the grand scheme of things, of course it isn’t important. In the small scheme of things that is my life would winning have given me that boost of confidence that I so desperately need right now? maybe. who knows. my week has just been one thing after another. winning would have been one good thing to think about instead of the bad. but i wasn’t really expecting to win. because i’m simply mediocre. and I know it’s annoying to have to read about my poor me’s, i do. I know I’m a big drama queen, maybe that’s why I have no one to talk to about these things and have to use my blog!

  2. If you want, send me the manuscript, I will have a look at it. I think I’ve read it once but I will give my thoughts on it. I don’t ever think you should give up on a project that close to your heart. However, you may need to willing to change the focus (not the story) of the novel to make it more palatable to the publishers.



    1. Ann, that’s a really sweet offer, but I can’t take any more criticism right now, constructive or otherwise. for the past month or so that’s all I’ve been getting at one of my jobs and I just can’t take anymore, but I do appreciate it and love that you want to help. thank you.

  3. Neat! Well done and don’t worry, you’ll make it! Yeah, maybe you need to move to the next project – don’t we all…I never won a contest of any sort either, but I’ve always tried to put everything behind me and look FORWARD.

    All I can say is that looking forward helps … even though I’m not sure what I’m looking at!

  4. I know you know that reading is subjective. I entered he contest and wrote what I thought were the two strongest pieces I’d ever created. Not even one made it past the entry stage. Yet, I know they both will eventually make great stories. That’s the conviction I have. Belief in my writing is the fuel that keeps me going after each rejection. I hope you find whatever fuel you need to keep you moving onward.

  5. Rach, this conversation you had with yourself is so close to the ones that go through my mind. I think everyone has these doubts at some point. I got a rejection on Janie the same day I won. Everything is subjective and I know you will find a place for Twenty-Five.

    1. I can’t even work up the courage to finish this round of edits and start querying. It’s so funny. I’ve only sent out 13 letters and I feel like my book is the most terrible piece of shit to ever cross the desk of an agent- and it’s only crossed one agent’s desk! I’ll get the courage one day. I don’t know when. But one day.

  6. Congrats on making it to the finals! That for one, if not mediocre 🙂

    You are not alone in these back-and-forth mental conversations. I’d say, pick up the pen and be the messenger of whoever’s talking to you, whether Ben, or a new character you’ve never heard of, because you know, the only way to ensure failure is to stop trying, not the opposite. You can take breaks certainly, but as you take your time, don’t forget that writing lives in you.



    1. I’ve thought a lot about revamping the sequel I started to write for Thirty-Four. I let other people convince me to take it in a different direction than I wanted and that’s when I stopped writing it. But Ben has been practically yelling at me lately that I need to write it the way I intended. We’ll see, I might do that once I finish the Death Effect. Which I’m going to finish! I am, I am I am!

  7. You, my friend, sound like a real writer. If we weren’t so sensitive, we wouldn’t be able to breathe life into our characters like we do. And rejection SUCKS. I’ve cried before. Recently a story that I love has been rejected from three different markets, and ouch! But you wrote it, you entered, and now there are a bunch of people (slush readers, judges) who thought you did well enough to go far, and they’ll remember your name and your work. That’s a major hurdle, and it will only help you next time. Don’t forget how fabulous you are.

    Do you remember Simon, who had a picture on my blog? He’s hot. We’re writing a noir-ish serial blog together, and it makes us laugh out loud. Come read it and feel better. It’s hard to keep a straight face when you’re imagining me kicking a hole through his gut with my stiletto. 🙂 It starts here: http://constantrevisions.blogspot.com/2010/07/stilettos-and-shirley-temples-pt-1.html

    1. haha, I definitely do remember sexy Scottish Simon! Is he single? haha. I read part of the story the other day and I’ve been meaning to go back and read from the beginning, but I’ve had less and less me/blog/writing time lately than normal. Maybe this week? I hope so!

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