Ann Brady’s Dealing With Contest Grief, another CRW retreat Jewel

Sensational Saturdays

a blog for whatever is on my mind

We are all familiar with experiencing grief when we have the loss of a loved one. We might even recognize it when there is something else that is a loss in our lives, like the loss of a relationship. But what about the loss of an opportunity? What about when you recieve a rejection for your manuscript? Or you don’t get the job. Or you don’t do as well in a contest or sporting event that you worked very hard for and thought you would ace?

At our September CRW retreat we had guest Ann S. Brady, a social worker and counselor from Denver and she helped us realize that these lost opportunities or even failures engender grief. And we go through the exact same grieving process (albeit not as intense) as we do when losing a loved one. Sometimes we get stuck in our grief and never move on. Never enter that next contest or send in that next query. Recognizing grief and its stages can help us move along through them faster and get us to a place where we can move into a new opportunity.

Denial is the first stage of grief and I can tell you it’s my first one when opening up a disappointing review or rejection. And it’s quickly followed in my case by anger. I know they’re wrong, or misled or whatever. I have to put it all aside till I calm down and am able to really look at what the person said. That’s how we move into the next stage, bargaining, where we just know we need to tweak and polish and work harder and then it will do better. Some of this may be true, but it might also be the thing that is keeping you in that really bad first book. You might need to just dump it and move on to a new project.

That acknowlegement that it might simply not be any good leads to the next stage, depression. You might feel like you will never be any good and get stuck here. Nurturing yourself and getting out can be very helpful at this stage. So you can move on to the last stage, acceptance.

Once you’re here you can come up with a realistic plan, not one based on wallowing. Revise, polish, or move on to the  next project, whatever you decide you know that you are ready for action.

Have you ever gotten stuck in one of these cycles? How did you get out?

Leave a comment for entry into my month long Halloween Treats contest in celebration of my novella Little Red Riding Wolf, soon to be released from Passion in Print Press. Take a chance on winning today’s book, an autographed copy of The Shy Duchess by Amanda McCabe.

Thursday’s winner is Sharon Clare! Congratulations Sharon, send me your address through my comments box and I’ll be shipping out your book soon!


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7 responses to “Ann Brady’s Dealing With Contest Grief, another CRW retreat Jewel

  1. Hey, Jessica. I know I hit some wins on this Contest Slut go-’round, but it hasn’t always been that way. I have two unsold mss. I got requests for fulls on both. I got subsequent rejections on both.

    Those rejections slammed me. I went through all stages of grief. Spent a GREAT deal of time in denial. Took lengthy trips through rewrite hell, thinking I could make my mss better. Kept trying to find THE place in the hard copy (yes, it was that long ago) where I lost them. The FBI will not dust for prints. Agents don’t leave clues, like smudges and coffee stains. I had NO CLUE.

    For a bit, I propped myself up with new submissions to different agents for the revised mss (in retrospect, mss that were worse for the edit-wear). Then, I had to face the reality. I DID NOT KNOW WHAT I DIDN’T KNOW. I think Margie Lawson calls this Unconscious Incompetence. So, I studied the craft. I know my current ms is better than the last. I know I’ll go back and rewrite the originals based on what I’ve learned. I know…

    I’m still going to go through nail-biting hell when I send out this next one. What if I fail again? Well, I guess I pick myself up and go after it again. After I get through the stages. GREAT post.

    • Oh the contest woes! I literally look at the results, then yell, then don’t look at them for a month. Or two. I complain to you and to Sherry. It can’t be me! Of course, even the worst contest judge still has some viable criticisms. And it can’t all be the judges, can it? So off we go to re-write hell. The good news is you are now finaling and winning in those contests, so “WOO HOOO” to you!

      And thank Gracie again for the typo help. This week will be better, I can already feel it. 🙂

  2. I once thought that my own feelings about my writing were bang on and anyone else was wrong. Thank goodness, now I know better, but I well remember not working on my writing for three months at a time after an extreme editing course I took. I had to get to the point where I realized whose comments to ignore and whose to act on. Not an easy job, but now I am much better for having struggled through that. I can step back and look at my writing critically but still appreciate others’ criticism as those others see things I totally miss. It’s all part of the process, I think.

    • I have such a hard time with this. For instance, same contest, same submission: Judge one said heroine was weak, hero fantastic. Judge two said hero needed help and heroine was great. Whose do you go with? Judge three had no problem with hero or heroine, but wielded a mean grammar whip and said I needed to have other people read my ms to help me. I’ve had five, count ’em, five people read this ms. Obviously none of us are good with the grammar. So I whine my way through my denial. I’m moving on to the next stage, and eventually I’ll pick up this ms again and re-read these comments and winnow out the gems. I do think the hero needs some help, and maybe when I up his game the heroine will come along for the ride. And as for the grammar? Well, that’s what those editors are for, right? (Do you think I’m still in denial?)

  3. LOL, Jessie. I hear you on the judge results. I’m editing now based on comments that were COMMON from all my judges and some gems a few judges picked up that others didn’t.

    Case in point on differences in opinion: most of the judges thought I had a snappy “voice,” and used it effectively in POV changes. One judge said she found my “voice” flat. Another said she found little destinction between the POVs. I use wordle for each POV (and that website that escapes me at the moment–the one that tells you who you write like). When I pop my protag POV in there, it consistently comes back as Stephen King (no clue why). The hero, on the other hand, consistently come back as a different author.

    Lots of grammar-and-style alert judges ding me for “white space” and “sentence frags.” Hey! Take a Margie Lawson course and you’ll know the power of those devices, but I can over use them.

    I HAVE had to mark the rhetorical devices in the margins, tho’. Ooh! New toys! (I love to play with those new toys.) Some don’t fit for the hero, so I watch for those in his POV scenes. Anyhoooooo. Judges have opinions. Authors have final authority. I’ve been blessed this year with some great judges. Phew! I hit word count today…just not on my WIP. ACK! Off to SBUX in a few to write. I’m in Row80 and have GOT to get the judge’s comments incorporated and the text Margie-ized. GH! I’m coming!

    • You go girl! You do have a snappy voice, it comes through loud and clear on your blog too! Steven King? Go figure, at least you know the suspense is there! And as for the frags, yes, I have had to go through and winnow some out. I’ve had some judges hit me hard on the rhetorical devices. For instance, why did you repeat this word here? kind of comments. When YOU would know exactly why I did it! End result is I want my book to be fast paced and flow, judges are readers, but are they supercritical readers?

      You are right! Authors have final authority. And I am sure that when you final in the GH it will be because of your decisions.Go, go, go, Gloria!!

      (HA! Two in one!)

  4. Pingback: Retreat Bijou, Elizabeth Pelletier of Entangled Publishing | JessicaAspenWrites

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