To all entrants of the 2011 OYAN Contest.
For the last week, my most frequent One Year Adventure Novel-related thought has definitely been: oh, I’m so glad I’m not entering a novel this year. God, bless those who are!
Because I know the panic, the self-doubt, the fear, the wishes you’d spent more time editing than socializing, the why the heck did I write that?! moments, more panic, more self-doubt, more fear.
It’s funny that every entrant of the OYAN contest, past and present, has felt that way, because every novel to be entered in the contest this year (and previous years) is something extraordinary.
Most adults dream of writing a novel “someday.” Very often, “someday” never happens. That’s because writing a book--even getting from crappy page one to crappy THE END--is enormously hard. I don’t think the non-writer world realizes this. It. Is. HARD.
If you’re entering the OYAN contest, it means one major thing: you finished a novel. Think about that. You. Finished. A. Novel!! (And you’re a teen, to boot.)
But it’s more than that. I would guess 99.7% of entrants have also EDITED a novel. Good writing is rewriting. You put effort not only getting out the brilliant novel that exists in your head onto paper (where it turns into a mediocre to straight-out bad manuscript), survived that process, but then you also tackled that monster head on and made it better.
This is all pretty awesome stuff. But there’s more.
You had a purpose in it.
You survived that process because you have a heart for this. You had a story to tell, and it was worth all the hair-pulling to get there. You most likely wrote because you want to help a dying world. You showed a positive ideal-- love, forgiveness, courage, truth--winning out over hate, revenge, cowardice, lies. You didn’t give the hero’s story goal to him on a gold platter. You made him EARN it. You showed that goodness has a price and that goodness is worth that price.
But there’s even more.
You’re being brave. Recklessly, rashly, fool-hardy brave. You’re Robin Hood defying the Sheriff, The Doctor saving the Earth, Frodo entering Mordor.
Writers live for readers, but the hardest thing we ever do is let our writing be read. Courage isn’t the absence of fear, but it’s facing that fear and overcoming it. You know everyone can’t win. You probably assume you can’t win. But you’re entering anyway. That takes guts. Your offering your heart in paper form to judges, and they can’t all be winners. There is always second place, finalists, semi-finalists, and those that don’t make the cut at all. And it could be you.
But you’re doing it anyway. And you know what?
You’re a winner in my book.
God bless you all,