So there I am in December, starting the 4th draft of my novel and thinking, Hoo-boy, this is truly bad in so many ways, and the chance to enter it in a contest comes up.
Suddenly I decide that I can not only make it a not-stupid book, but that I can do it in time for an early February (!) contest deadline, despite Christmas, houseguests and everyday life. I'm now thinking I belong in lock-up. Reformatting it for the rules turned into a whole, practically line-by-line, job by itself. Finished that yesterday, and only now can I even start entering substantive changes, from typos to genuine plot repairs. Oh and did I mention that I never completed the 4th draft edit before I started the reformat work?
All for something I haven't a prayer of winning, though that's not really a self-putdown. It has as much to do with my breaking a bunch of rules about what's commercially viable, as it does with writing problems. (Oh, well, yeah and with the fact that there might be 10,000 entries!) I'm pretty much doing what I want to do, not what "the market" prefers, But I don't mean to make it sound like I'm protecting My Terribly Important Artistic Vision from being commercialized. The story is pop fiction, meant to be fun, and even then, mainly to readers who give a hoot about the issues and angst of teenaged girls. All I care about is that I get to run my fictional world my own way. If I run it somebody else's way, the book becomes just a product and I fail to have fun.
Entering this contest sort of puts the book into fitness training. I see things in my writing, when I put it into public access, that I don't see when I'm still keeping it private. Posting an excerpt awhile ago showed me a major flaw that I'd missed when I was re-reading it only for myself. This contest is another chance to make me refine the thing.
Also - I'll be able to say I gave the commercial-publication route at least one fair shot.
Anyway, that's what I'm mired in these days. I and 9,999 other people who also cherish their novels. Yeah, mine could be one of 10,000 entries in this one contest. It doesn't do to take life too seriously!