I'm at the Writing for Young Readers Conference up in Utah this week. I'm enjoying the conference, but battling some pretty serious emotions.
I'm currently about 1/3 of the way through my second manuscript, and it's good. Seriously. And my first chapter, my first paragraph-- pure inpiration. At least, I think so.
They had a first page contest, and the top two winners get to meet with an editor or agent tomorrow for ten minutes. Sadly, I didn't win. What's more sad, I was really hoping to. I mean, the stuff I entered was honestly the best I've got in me. I can't write any better than that (yet). So knowing that I didn't win makes me feel discouraged about how much farther I have to go.
One of my biggest frustrations is that as an unpublished author, you are starving for educated feedback. Analyzing your own work is almost an impossibility. You only see what you were imagining, not what's actually on the page. I recognize that I may just have a lack of understanding about the industry, but sometimes I wish they would understand that if they gave a little back, they might just find some hidden treasures. I have no doubt that there are numbers of great writers with great stories who just have a few weaknesses that need to be pointed out. Do I think I'm one of them? I hope so, but how should I know-- I never get any feedback! When on earth does that happen? You have to pay literally hundreds to thousands of dollars to get that kind of help, or you inch along through countless conferences (which still cost hundreds of dollars), and pick up the scraps that are thrown out by industry professionals.
It's agravating, frustrating, and pulls at the hope we cling to that someday our words will be read by others. That someday an agent will find our work worthy. That a publisher will think it has value. Or that it has value for us, even if nobody else ever thinks so. That there is meaning to the countless hours we spend in front of the computer.
So that's what's been hard about this conference for me. I gave my best, and I mean my very best, and it still wasn't good enough. I will continue to starve for guidance, I will continue to read and study writing and good literature, I will keep writing. And I will hope for better results tomorrow.