I feel like I’m winning when I’m losing again

And the winners are…

I held my breath as I scanned the list of finalists for a writing contest. I had submitted NOT a winnerMemories & Secrets several months ago, despite my earlier pledge to myself to stop entering these contests, since I never make the cut. But this one was different. It offered the opportunity to receive feedback from the judges on my entry — a few new sets of professional eyes (and their respective editorial brains) to offer me lessons on the strengths and weaknesses of my writing.

My name wasn’t in the list of finalists…again. Yet, as I read the judges’ notes, I felt like a winner. There were positive comments

PROLOGUE: Although it’s often frowned upon to have a prologue, yours gave such an intriguing premise that I wanted to read more and leave it in.


I really think you have a great narrative flow and voice. This was an easy read, not because it was simple, but because you write well!

There were also many specific notes about strengthening the narrative, removing or shortening several scenes which weren’t pushing the story forward, adding a little more internal dialog (what is the character thinking?), and other under-the-magnifying-glass suggestions to improve my writing.

I’m thrilled with the feedback! For the first time, I’m getting to see the scoring and judges’ opinions about my work. I barely missed the point cutoff for finalists, so I’m quite encouraged by that. The judges gave Memories & Secrets the highest possible score in this category:

Entry is of publishable quality. Both writing ability and storytelling are equivalent to published work of the same genre in the area being judged.

I plan to immerse myself in the detailed editing comments from each judge to learn and improve my craft. Some people might consider these notes as “nit-picking” — I consider them to be gems of insights to help me grow.

I can’t place a shiny insignia on the cover of my book declaring it to be an award finalist or winner, but I feel like a winner anyway.

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