Friday, August 29, 2008
Aftermath..by Ronie Kendig--ACFW BTY Coordinator and Seekerville Guestblogger
The majority of entrants walk away from a contest feeling as if they’d walked into the middle of a battle with no armor. Expectations are high, they want the victory, but are unprepared for the outcome. So, you’re wounded, feeling a bit dejected, and maybe you’ve even toyed with the thought of hurtling your computer across the room. You wanted a window in that wall anyway, didn’t you?
But let’s step back from the aggression. Take a look at things a bit objectively. I’ve worked with contests for several years now, as a judge, a category coordinator, and as the contest coordinator. It’s been very eye opening, and I’d like to help some of you down from the ledge. I think there are many important keys to surviving, but I’d like to focus on three:
First, you’re a writer and as such, you have to get into the minds of your characters, right? So, do the same with the judges. They aren’t there drooling and laughing maniacally to see how much they can tear you down, although it might feel that way. Truly, they want to help. And remember that whether here in a contest, or out “there” in the bookstores, your judges are . . .readers. We each have different opinions, and that diversity is a part of being a writer, too.
Second, before you can fully digest contest feedback, I think you must first accept that YOU are a WRITER. That’s your job (yes, I sad the J-word). It’s a painful and sometimes gruesome reality, but writing takes work. If you want to stay ahead of the game, you must hone your skills. Always. So, even if the feedback seemed to carve your heart out, work through it. Take what you agree with and implement it, pray over those comments that leave you a tad uncertain, and tuck aside what you really disagree with.
Confidence. I find this element severely lacking in many writers, because most writers, like me, are more prone to feeling than logic (you Type A’s, don’t roast me). It’s easier to think the judges didn’t get your writing than to accept that perhaps you have something you need to work on. But being able to do this requires finding your confidence as a writer, which is vital. I’m not talking confidence as in “I have all the answers.” I’m speaking of your identity. . .being a writer. Learning the rules. Honing your skills. Once you are grounded in that confidence, once you have your “footing,” you will find that you can face the challenges of refining a story and your skill with grace and determination, because by then, you’re concentrating on story, not on YOU (read: pride) and the lies that plague and paralyze.
Contests are out there to challenge us to press forward, to be the best and write the best that we can. But remember—you are already a writer. Don’t let negative feedback define you. Define yourself! And because I’m a Christian, I find my definition in Christ, and through his unconditional love, I am able to find my footing in areas of my life that are important—like writing.
Ronie Kendig has a BS in Psychology and is a wife, mother of four, and avid writer. She has found her voice in writing fast-paced fiction. Ronie’s espionage thriller Dead Reckoning is contracted by Abingdon Press and slated it for a March 2010 release. Also, Ronie co-authored a true story about her husband, Brian, which appears in Allison Bottke’s God Answers Prayers: Military Edition (Harvest House). She won third place in the ACFW Noble Theme Contest in Science Fiction with her futuristic military story, Liberty’s Son. An active member of ACFW, Ronie serves as the Book of the Year coordinator and as List Hostess for the main e-loop. She also volunteers on the ACFW conference committee for the national conference, as assistant to the conference appointment coordinator, and judges in the Genesis contest.
Ronie's Web site
Ronie Kendig, has been contracted by Abingdon Press for her espionage thriller, Dead Reckoning, scheduled for release March 2010. Deal negotiated by agent extraordinaire, Steve Laube.
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