The Road to Recovery

…is paved with good intentions too.

Anyone in RWA (and some who aren’t) knows that yesterday was Golden Heart / Rita award finalist notification day.  I’ve been looking forward to yesterday since November when, in a mad last-minute scramble, I got “Comfort Zone” ready to go.  I’ve entered before and it’s a demanding contest, but the finalists are known throughout RWA as the best of the best.  It’s like the All-Star Game for romance fiction, and more than just being an honor to be nominated, it means your book is really, really good.  As in, this-close-to-selling good.  A lot of GH finalists and winners make sales. 

Of course, I’ve heard people who didn’t final who insist it’s a “crap shoot”, too.  That it all depends on the judges.  I can agree with that somewhat.  As the coordinator of my chapter’s annual contest, I’ve seen judges’ scores cross both ends of the spectrum; one judge hated it and thinks the writer should quit now, the other loved it and can’t wait to see it in print.  The GH gets 5 judges, and you have to charm all 5 to even have a chance at finaling.  Get two who got a ticket on the way in to work, or their scale was feeling cantankerous that morning, and you can kiss your chances of a final goodbye.  Even discrepancy judging can’t fix two ball-busting judges.

Dammit, I wanted to final.  I wanted it more than I wanted food, which I’ve been eating less of.  Yesterday was the first time in six months that I could wear my “skinnier” jeans and still breathe when I sat down.  Little did I know, that’s the only good news I’d be getting yesterday.

When I plunked down my $50 and sent my entry out, I scheduled myself for a vacation day at work, not just because I need to burn the time but because I knew there wasn’t enough distraction in the world to keep me from jumping sky-high when the phone rang.  Instead of sitting home, curled in a fetal position with a bottle of tequila at the ready, I spent the day at the mall, hanging out with 2 published authors and great friends (Judi Fennell and Stephanie Julian), watching the names pile up on Judi’s running blog of finalists.  The Marv Levy quote comes to mind:  “Where else would you rather be than right here, right now?”  I knew going in that no matter the result, we’d have a great time, and we did.  Except none of us got calls.

My phone only rang after I called my bestest yarn buddy, Laura, to tell her I’d seen her name on the RWA list of finalists.  (She didn’t know she finaled.  It’s the second year running I got to make a GH call to someone.)  My critique partner and baseball buddy, Hope Ramsay (soon to be Grand Central author) finaled too, with a MS she forgot she’d entered.  When it became clear that my phone wasn’t going to ring, I went home crying, spent the night wondering why I keep doing this to myself, wrote 250 words that probably suck beets, and went to bed feeling like the shit end of the stick.  Even “The Office” couldn’t make me laugh.

Despite all this whining, I’m not giving up.  I’d like to make that clear now.  I am, however, licking some pretty deep open wounds that don’t heal with “there’s always next year” or “just because you didn’t final doesn’t mean your book isn’t good enough.”  At the moment, that’s exactly how it feels , and how it feels trumps anything anybody says. 

I’ll recover…eventually.  This, too, shall pass.  Like a kidney stone, but it’ll pass.  For the next few days, all the platitudes in the world are only going to bounce off me like water off a duck’s back, so if anyone out there has any good jokes, I’d surely love a chance to laugh again.

Part of my personal recovery process involves music.  Hope sent me a link to a really great song that did help, David Wilcox’s “Turning Point”.  It’s not on YouTube so I can’t give you a link, but if you Google the lyrics, I can highly recommend it.  Even better if you can put it to music. 

One that helped me get through this morning was Train’s “This Ain’t Goodbye.”  Because I’m close to working on the Black Moment in the story, I thought the song was fitting, but this morning on the drive in, I found another layer to it that helped me. 

Maybe by tonight I can listen to any song with the word “gold”, “golden”, or “heart” in it and I won’t so much as sniffle.