From time to time I enter contests. Novel contests, novella contests, short story contests, short short story contests. It's part of my Career Management Plan.
Recently I entered yet another contest. This one was a "Be This Famous Guy's Co-Author" contest. Famous Guy- we'll call him FG- sells lots and lots of books. He also hires lots and lots of co-authors, probably because there's no other way he can meet the market demand for his books, which is huge. Roughly every ten minutes FG turns out another novel, and all his fans can do it scream "More! More! More!" the ungrateful trolls.
So clearly he needs all the help he can get.
A few months ago FG announced his "Be My Co-Author" contest. Entrants were to submit 3000 words of a book that sounded like it could have been written by him. Plus a two-page plot summary, and a two-sentence "hook." He even offered an example of what a "hook" should sound like.
"You're read 'Rosemary's Baby,' right? 'Young wife gets pregnant with the devils' child.' Now that's a hook!"
Yes. Yes, it is. But you can be reasonably certain "And then her kid gets pregnant with the devil's grandchild" would not have the same impact.
Well. I gave it the old Desperate Irish Housewife try. I came up with a plot, a hook, and 3000 words. Call it A.
Then I came up with another plot, another hook, and another 300 words. Call it B.
Then I decided to send in B.
But I must have picked the wrong one, because I didn't make it to the semifinalists list.
Obviously if I'd sent in the other one I would have made the list, right? Right? But I didn't and I didn't, so that's that. (Disappointed? Me? No no no! Wherever did you get that idea?)
The day semifinalists were announced, I was big about it. "Congratulations to the semi-finalists!" I posted. "Best of luck to them all!"
It was only the next day that I made my fatal mistake. I checked the website again. (Because, you know, Steve Harvey.) There was the list on the website with an added link.
The link took me to a short video. Of the winners. At their computers, at the moment when they found out they'd won.
Did they look happy? No.
They looked ecstatic. "Hi! Hello! Gosh I'm so happy! I'm thrilled! I'm grinning from ear to ear! I'm walking on air--I am as light as a feather! I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a schoolboy! Happy, happy, happy!"
Now, Desperate is not a sore loser. (Usually. OK, on occasion I can manage it... oh, all right, I'm a sore loser, sue me.) And she could handle not making the Top Ten list.
But whose idea was it to post that video?
I mean, come on, FG, have a heart!
Look, I don't mind seeing one woman crowned Miss Universe. Why, you ask? Because I NEVER RAN FOR MISS UNIVERSE. I was in the audience the whole time. The whole time. I was never up on that stage sucking in my stomach and curling my tongue behind my teeth and mouthing platitudes about world peace.
But I was in this contest. I was going for the gold. I knew it was a long shot-- so did Miss Mongolia, but she gave it her all. I was the Miss Mongolia of the writing contest, ready to go meekly back to the Himalayas and get back to tending the yaks, which I believe is Mongolian for "get back to your desk and keep writing."
Watching the victory dance made it just a tad tougher.
Luckily I have tools for dealing with disappointment. I have family, friends, a fully stocked bar. I'll get over it. I'll pick myself up, dust myself off and start all over again.
But maybe not with B. Maybe I'll get back to work on A first.
It's good to know there's a whole alphabet to work through after that.