I entered a writing contest a couple of months ago.
The results came in the other day and I was disappointed.
My scores were a 95 (out of 100), 98, and……..a 52.
The high-scoring judges recommended that I send off my manuscript without delay to publishers. The low-scoring judge’s critique advised me to change my novel’s concept.
How can there be such a huge discrepancy in judges’ viewpoints? More important, what can I learn from this experience?
After a cooling off period—every writer needs a few days to get over harsh critiques—and some prayer, self-examination, and further examination of my contest submission, I gained some insights:
1. God is not surprised at the outcome of this contest. He’s not taken by surprise by anything that occurs in my life. He knew about my score long before the judges even saw my submission. He knew that I would have two enthusiastic judges, and one who simply didn’t like my submission.
2. God is not disappointed with me. I am His child. He knows my heart and that I want very much to please Him. He knows my current state of maturity, knows my current stresses, my deepest desires, my most fervent prayers, my most acute wounds. He views me as I was, as I am, and as I will be. And the days of my life are not measured by my timeline of achievements, but in terms of my relationship with God, built on ever increasing faith.
3. God is in charge. Though I rail at Him sometimes at the the slowness in coming of all things I pray for, I know that He is a wise Father. He is not so much interested in satisfying my temporal appetites as He is in bringing me into alignment with His perfect will.
4. Immunization. A contest, followed by a critique is kind of like going to the doctor to get a shot. You know it’s going to hurt, but the shot will prevent something worse father on down the line. Over time, and after several rounds of shots, You get pretty blasé about the experience.
5. Education. Each critique gives me bits of information to help me improve my craft. I paid money to receive critiques, so I should get my money’s worth by heeding the critiquers’ advice.
6. Perspective. There will always be readers who won’t like my story or my writing. I need to get over it. I cannot be all things to all readers.
7. Focus. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the criticism, but I need to force my mind to focus on the positive comments so that I don’t become discouraged.
You may not be a writer, but I’m sure you have experienced disappointment. I hope that my “seven benefits” are an encouragement to you today. Keep on keeping’ on!
“A fool spurns his father’s discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence.” (Proverbs 15: 5 NIV Bible)