Exactly one year ago on September 7, 2006, I submitted the first of seventeen chapters in the Avon FanLit contest. It placed near the very, very bottom of all 513 entries. I was crushed and wanted to quit. By October 20, the chapter I wrote for Round 6 came in fourth out of the top ten (thanks to Tessa’s sainted sacrifice). I admit that felt good, but even better, I learned something about the writing process each week. And more about myself.

I’m sure some of my favorite bloggers/writers will be getting reminiscent right about now thinking of last September and October, where all our hopes were placed on two Regency Rebels Without a Cause named Patience and Damien. The Vagabonds have already done VagabondLit, so perhaps we’ve got FanLit Fatigue all over again. But I want it known that this post was begun a month ago at 6:10 AM on August 12, 2007, after I woke up and felt sorry that summer was almost over for me. Forget the fact that I had two full weeks left to do relatively nothing. I wanted more time off. I didn’t want to return to work. I wanted to be sitting in my garden with a book or in my pajamas all day typing away.

But when I thought of things ahead, my mind returned to the mists of time: last fall’s fabulous, frustrating Avon FanLit contest, several weeks of inconsistency, immortality and insanity. The contest, for those of you who don’t know, pitted hundreds of would-be writers against each other to craft a six chapter novella in a kind of round-robin, building the next chapter on the previous week’s winner. There were some glitches in the voting, but it was amazing to read chapters and see how others used the same bare bones, fleshed them out and fattened them up.

I was lucky enough to final twice in the top ten entries in Rounds 3 and 6, and I “know” quite a few of the participants and ultimate winners now, whose work was bound up into These Wicked Games. Here’s a salute to every man and woman who spent two months pouring their hearts out into a hysterical historical, where the husband didn’t recognize his wife, cats ruled the roost, and purple was the color of choice. I’m drinking the whole pot of chocolate in your honor, and soon, I’ll be reading your published books!

To get mushy, the Avon contest kind of changed my life. For the first time ever, I wrote something that other people actually read. I bonded with lots of great writers. I finished my WIP, two novellas and am 75,000 words through another book. I started this blog. This past year has given me some confidence, even with rejections. I’m more serious and focused—comparatively speaking. *g* So, thanks, Avon. Even if I grumbled a bit, I grew.

Any thoughts on writing contests?

Elyssany entered and won! E-mail maggierobinson8@yahoo.com

Love is the only game that is not called on account of darkness~Thomas Carlyle