Thursday, June 01, 2006

Maggie Madness

My local RWA chapter, Georgia Romance Writers, sponsors a writing contest every year--The Maggie Awards of Excellence.

For the last few years, I've considered myself advanced enough in the skills of writing a good story to enter.

And for those same last few years, I've had a complete mental meltdown as the deadline to submit my entry looms.

It goes something like this:

January..begin new book, work feverishly and have critique partner look at the first few chapters and synopsis. Thumbs up, I continue, thumbs down and the project gets shelved so I can start again.

Eat chocolate.

February..submit synopsis and first chapter for annual GRW March workshop. This is where a published author reads the proposal and gives helpful advice to help potential Maggie entrants polish their work to increase chances of finalling and winning.

March..March workshop. Published author hates my proposal, calling my characters unrealistic, my locale too "exotic", the plot contrived and "over the top". Shelve project and begin working on the idea I'd been keeping in reserve.

Eat lots of chocolate. furiously polishing and polishing Maggie entry until it's the next GWTW.

End of May..3:00 AM panic attacks where I wake up in a cold sweat, convinced my work is rubbish and I should just scrap the whole thing and go to work as a file clerk. Many phone calls and IM's to critique partner and other supporters who soothe my frazzled nerves and convince me that my writing is stupendous and I'm a shoo in not only to final, but to WIN the prestigious Maggie Award.

Eat massive amounts of chocolate. Refuse to step on bathroom scale.

Last day of May..Frantic last second polishing and printing of three copies of first 35 pages of m/s (including the synopsis).

Panic attack when I can't find colored copy paper to place between synopsis and first chapter as required in "The Rules". Use Highlighters to color edges of white copy paper and pray that it's not an unforgivable sin that will render my entry null and void.

Get in car to drive to Post Office, back down driveway and remember I don't have the address for contest coordinator.

Get address, drive to Post Office. Grab two Tyvek envelopes and address them.

Stand in interminable line where everyone in front of me needs the postal code for an obscure village in Uzbeckistan.

Get to window and realize I've sealed Tyvek envelope without first including postage for return envelope. Rip Tyvek envelope open. Clerk gives me that "patient look" she's perfected since joining Postal Service in 1944.

Request two Priority Mail stamps. Place postage on return envelope, reseal Tyvek envelope only to immediately realize that I forgot to include the check for my entry fee.

Slap forehead. Pay clerk who tells me to step aside so she can assist next customer in line.

Rip Tyvek envelope open, place check in envelope, reseal envelope. Return to window where clerk asks to weigh package. I'm lacking $.15 on EACH envelope. Purchase additional postage. Step aside so clerk can assist next waiting customer who has been in line behind me since third grade. Receive dirty looks from waiting customers.

Rip Tyvek envelope open a THIRD time to attach additional postage to return envelope.

Return to window where clerk shoots me an exasperated look and TAPES tattered Tyvek envelope closed with Approved Postal Service package tape. She then rips it from my sweaty, shaking hands and throws it on the cart behind her.

Forget the chocolate.

Go home and drink a double Johnny Walker Gold Label on the rocks.