by Shannon Donnelly
This question could be askedâ€”why enter any writing contest? What can it do for youâ€”and what won’t it do. And should you even think about entering? Let’s start with some basics, as in what can any contest do for you.
What it can’t do for you:
That’s a lot going for what a contest can give to you. But how do you know if you’re ready? And why enter the Orange Rose contest specifically?
Things to think about before you enter:
If you answer yes to any of these questions, you might be ready for the Orange Rose contest. If you’ve answered yes to three or more of the questions, you should think about entering. If you’ve answered yes to more than seven of them, it’s definitely time to enter.
Contests aren’t just about winningâ€”they are also a way to track your own progress as a writer. This actually used to be a lot more possible to do with submissions and rejections, but these days it’s too easy for good work to get rejections. Contests help fill that gap, give you better feedback, and they give you deadlines so you can start to see if you can actually make a writing career work.
But why the Orange Rose?
There are several excellent reasons. But let’s start with the best oneâ€”the feedback in the Orange Rose comes from published authors.
Now, all judging is subjective. That means some folks like oranges better than apples, and an opinion is an opinion. But a published author has learned what worksâ€”the hard way. There is an experience here that does help in that every published author knows one thing: flawed writing will sell. Every story has its strengthsâ€”and its weaknesses. But a published author has learned how to accent one and cover up the other. That’s knowledge those authors can pass along.
The next best reason is fifty-five pagesâ€”same as the Golden Heart. You may have a brilliant first couple of pages. Or your brilliance may shine at page thirty. But you won’t know which is which in the Golden Heart, which just gives you back a number. The Orange Rose is still one of the best contests around which can tell you if you’re ready for the Golden Heart, and gets you feedback in time to make revisions.
There’s also the excellent reason of moneyâ€”cash awards! And while writing may not just be about the money for you, there’s nothing quite like stepping up into the category of a writer who is becoming a professionalâ€”you’re getting paid to write. That’s pretty heady stuff.
Finally, it’s your chapter contest. When I was still unpublished and struggling, the Orange Rose was a measure of my own success. It was also a contest I always wanted to winâ€”I never managed a win, but I was a finalist several times, and I always got the best feedback. And recognition from my peers.
If you use it right, the Orange Rose can teach you how to set goals and reach them.
It can be another tool that you can use to help you become publishedâ€”itâ€™s not the only path there, but it is a path. More than 45 finalistsâ€”that’s finalists, not just winnersâ€”have gone on to become published authors. That’s quite a track record.
The Orange Rose can be a touchstone of progress. It can give you a big picture look at how you are doing in going up against lots of other writers–the same way that you have to go up against those writers in the slush pile.
And a vote of encouragement from other authors can be just the thing you need to hold onto and use in your darker days to light your path to writing your next book.
Published in the March 2011 issue of the Orange Country RWA Orange Blossom newsletter.