Friday, March 13, 2009

Three Days to ABNA Quarterfinals

It's Friday, a Friday the 13th to be exact. I didn't realize that it was Friday the 13th until I heard it on the radio. We had one of those last month. It turned out to be a rather lucky day because that was the day I found out that I wasn't going to lose my job as I had feared.

I'm hoping that today might be a lucky day too though I'll have to wait to see how the day unfolds. I know on Monday I'm going to try to focus greatly on not stressing about the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. The semi-finalists are supposed to be notified on Monday. I don't want to care, I don't want to stress and yet a teeny-tiny part of me is hoping that I at least made the quarter-final rounds.
I hadn't been on the forums on the ABNA site for a while so I went on yesterday, just to see what was happening. One of the entrants in the contest is also an Amazon reviewer (known as Vine reviewers) and though she can't review any of the ABNA entries this year because of conflict of interest, she still has access to the reviewer forums. Yesterday, she was kind enough to post just a few of the comments that had been made by the Vine reviewers who are judging the ABNA entries. I thought it was nice of her. She made a point of saying it was only about 10% of the reviewer's opinions but the forum exploded in a mess of stress and panic anyway. Apparently, the Vine reviewers were fed up of first-person narratives and stories, women finding themselves after a midlife crisis and stories that were filled with profanity and bad language.

As is natural, the commentors on the forum began defending their own use of first-person narrative. They began to argue whether it was ok to use bad language in writing. They began to offer up examples of successful novels that defied what the Vine reviewers had said. I can't say I can't relate: The first thing I did when I read the Vine reviewer's comments was to mentally run through my novel and remind myself that I tend to write in third-person as a rule. I hadn't written a book about a women in a midlife crisis. I probably used a little profanity but only because that's how my character's talk. They're 20-30 something males who've had rather unhappy lives, they're going to say some bad words once in a while.

However, had I chosen to do any of those things in my novel that the Vine reviewers hadn't liked, I'm not sure that I would be one of those people stressing and getting defensive in the forums. Firstly, I tend to lurk and not post because of the constant thread hijacking, because I'm not fond of cliques because I find them a tad off-putting and intimidating and mostly because after my humbling experience last year, I am a little shy because there are some semi-professional writers in there who are way more experienced than me. Yet the main reason is as the initial generous poster said, it was only about 10% of the reviewers. For all we know, the other 90% of those Vine reviewers might have hated third person narratives, fantasy books, romances....any of the myriad of other things that weren't mentioned in the original post.

But I can't make fun of those people because I do understand them. We're getting close to the wire. It's like when you're waiting for an event to start, something you're so excited about that you've barely been able to wait. It's like you're waiting for something, anything to happen on that stage in front of you so that the waiting is over. A backstage worker comes out to adjust something and the whole house goes quiet for a second wondering if things are finally going to start. Warm-up music filters over the waiting audience and for a moment, you wonder if it means things have begun. Everything is something to get excited about because it's the only way to deal with the waiting. Yet it has been my experience that the event is always worth waiting for and when the lights finally do go down and the band or show begins to play, you'll know when it's happening and suddenly all that tension and excitement seems so worth it.

At least that's what I'm hoping on Monday evening. If not, well, I'll keep trying. One thing I've learned after my last brush with rejection is that I need to stop dwelling on those and write anyway. Whether short story, helping with a research paper on Machiavelli or a new idea for a novel, as long as I can find enjoyment from putting down words on paper, I think that means I've already won. When those words start flowing and I don't have to think, there's nothing like it in the world. Maybe it's not really about winning contests or getting published. Maybe the big event is the excitement of letting my passion for writing out, to weave the stories they find as they leave my brain and hit the paper. Whether it is or not, I like the idea anyway so that's what I'm going to believe, no matter what happens with the ABNA contest.

Happy Friday!

1 comment:

Samantha Elliott said...

You're a Dexter fan too? I guess we have more in common than our names and the fact that we love writing and...

Anyway, I'm operating under the "Lalalalalala" policy for the weekend. I'm acting as though ABNA doesn't exist. You can't fret about something that doesn't exist, right?

...maybe I'll just check my CreateSpace message center one more time...