When I cam across Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write contest, at first I laughed. And then a little spark in my brain went off, and I thought, “I could so totally do this.” Romance isn’t in my wheelhouse AT ALL, but I understandt he appeal and the potential benefits of delving into it. I whipped up an idea about a vampire bartender in Chicago who falls for a mysterious stranger who enters her bar one night, only to soon discover he’s a hunter trying to get to the bottom of some nasty shit that’s been going down and she has to deal with her attraction to him and her ties to the seedy vampiric underground of the Windy City. A pretty solid concept, I think, and one I actually got pretty excited to write about. So I’ve been forging ahead with scribbling out a first chapter to submit for the deadline on October 1st, thinking that, hey, if I apply myelf, I could have the full manuscript required by October 10th, right?
Let’s remember we’re talking to the woman who participates in NaNoWriMo every year and has yet to actually reach 50,000 words (this year is the year, though! Heartless, here we come!). Needless to day, as I started working on it, I realized that I would never have a manuscript ready by October 10th, even if I dedicated every waking spare moment to the project (which I wouldn’t do, anyway). So my vampire romance is going to be put aside, maybe for next year, maybe for something else, and I’m going back to focusing on Madeline and outlining Heartless and all my short stories. Because I may be a stickler for deadlines, but I also know a realistic goal from an absurd one.
Once again, I’m reminded of how the biggest thing I need to focus on right now (besides World Unknown Review and Heartless) is the creation of more content. If I had a manuscript that I was editing or near finishing, I would have a much better chance at a contest like this…or any other contest I might come across. Pretty useless to read about an agent accepting book queries if I haven’t got a book I can send her. Sure, I can throw together a story for a contest if the deadline is in a week, but larger pieces are much harder to work with. So I just need to keep working, keep writing, keep creating stuff that I can keep working on and improving and eventually find a home for it. I am getting much, much better, though, as I’ve been able to focus on projects until their finished before being distracted by (too many) other projects. On top of this, I’ve been slowly coming to grips with managing the patience required in this. No matter how much I may want to get a project done right now, good work takes time. I might not be able to enter a contest right now, but, maybe a few months or so, I’ll be much better prepared. Missing one contest doesn’t mean there isn’t another one right around the corner.