Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Golden Heart is stupid...

My dear friend Sheley Wimmer, wrote a brilliant reaction to next week’s announcement of the RITA and Golden Heart finalists. In it she expresses the ridiculous, angry, hopeful, illogical, and plaintive emotions many of us feel as writers. We want validation. Publication does that, but the euphoria doesn’t last. We want to know that we are loved, that we are good, that we have mattered. So, in her words, here is Sheley Wimmer:

The Golden Heart is stupid…
So says someone who was once addicted to entering this contest. But no more. No way. Know why? I will admit something here... but it's a secret. The Golden Heart contest makes me cringe, especially the day the calls go out.

My first entry went in 2002. I heard nothing on that day. In fact, I received a whopping 28 [out of 45] on my scorecard. If I were made of lesser stuff, I would have stopped writing right then and there. Nope. Kept plugging along. I started entering other contests about three years later. Becoming a contest finalist was my new goal. Goal achieved. Twenty-five wins altogether, but still no Golden Heart call. One year I was at Disney World, refusing to ride anything because it was call day. Another time I was on the beach with the phone in my hand.

"Why do you have your phone?" the husband asked.
"No reason."
None at all… just hope.

Again, last March, I spent the day on the computer watching the calls come in one by one. Sigh. Still no call for me. My scores got better thought. I went from 28 to 35. From a 35 to a 38 and then last year, a 42 and a 40, on two different entries.

This last year I said to myself there is no friggin’ way I am going to enter the Golden Heart a-g-a-i-n!!! No way! I'm not doing it. That's for crazy people. Contest wins had already blessed me with a wonderful agent… what more did I need?

So guess what I was doing the last week of November. That's right. You know what I was doing. Need I say more? Okay, I will, but only because I said it was stupid before. That was just a hook to get you to read this far. Two days before the entries were due, I was making crazy insane copies of three manuscripts, the first fifty pages, formatted just right, six copies each, and rewriting each and every synopsis, because, of course, that had to be why I wasn't getting the call. Overnight mail really works! I won't tell you all what I paid. That's a secret between my credit card and myself. Suffice to say I had to hide that bill from my honey.

Through everything, something amazing happened. I had pre-paid for four manuscript, hoping that by some miracle I would finish my young adult novel. Well, I didn't. Not even close. But what I did have was three solid manuscripts, beginning to end, sitting on my kitchen table. Seeing them piled like that made me realize that I am indeed a true writer. There is a plaque I have hanging on my bathroom wall that says, "One shoe can make all the difference. Cinderella."

In my case, one phone call can make all the difference. It won't be the Golden Heart call… it will be the other one. The real call. Even so, what will I be doing on the twenty-fifth, next Thursday, between, roughly, I don't know, six am to, gee, midnight, because one can always hope they "forgot" to call someone? Nothing much. Mostly just sitting here. On top of my on my vibrating cell phone. With my house phone right by my side. Glued to my computer screen. Watching the calls come in. Hoping against hope that I might get one of them... or three. (Okay, now I am just being greedy!) Part of me thinks this IS all incredibly stupid on my part. But what if? I like the "what ifs?" So, like many of you, my fingers are crossed. That is my true confession. Anyone else care to admit a true Golden Heart confession??? =0)


You are not alone. We all want that elusive feeling that today is the day. But I’ll let you know that the desire for that feeling comes back. Even after THE CALL. I was a Golden Heart Finalist way back when, and while I try to appreciate being published, I still crave that validation. So you know what I’ll be doing this November. Entering the RITA with THE WISH LIST.

Sucker. Right there, printed on my forehead. But beside it is also DREAMER. Because that’s what gets us writers through the day.


Books I’m reading now:
Lord Of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase
Lessons in French y Laura Kinsale
The Phoenix Endangered by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory


  1. I'm a dreamer too, Gabi! Big time! I loved Sheley's letter. It describes the whole process perfectly. I can't wait to see you with that statue!


  2. Hey, Darynda. You have to dream big. Thanks for the vote of confidence.

  3. I wonder if there is a super, heavy duty keyboard for people like who us sit and bang our heads on it after we've hit SEND,
    entering a contest?
    Contests are the ultimate carrot, dangling in front of us. If only we (not our work, which is what it should be) final or win, then we're real writers.
    Are any of us NOT neurotic?

  4. I know what you mean. And writers do crave validation, all the time, quite neurotically so, because we spend so much time alone with our creation. And I also agree that three solid manuscripts sitting on your kitchen table is quite a bit of validation. What an accomplishment that is. Congratulations.

    I also have to say that being a Golden Heart finalist literally changed my life. So despite the nerves, despite the cost, despite the total patheticness of dragging a cell phone around for the whole day—it is worth it.

    Good luck tomorrow!

    Julie x