College or Summer Camp

This weekend I had a hard choice to make. I think it’s an enviable choice if not a simple one: I have a number of stories in various stages of development, and among that group I had a contender for two contests.

It’s rare that happens. Most of the time, I have a clear idea of which story I want to enter in a mentorship contest based on the mentors and wish-lists. This time, I really wasn’t sure!

It’s my weird little fairy mob story, one I’m fond of calling my chaos kid. By the time both contests open for submissions, my story will have been revised twice, and have been through one round of Beta’s, which for me is usually contest time territory. It’s ready for some additional developmental editing, some refining, deepening, and hopefully shaping it into something that might go out for querying at some point later in the year.

The question became—who did I want to work on this story with me?

The options:

RevPit—a contest with developmental editors, many of whom I know, and they happen to be extremely interested in acquiring MG work this year. Because this contest ends with an agent showcase, it’s an intensive, short program, requiring a lot of work in a compressed period of time.

Write Mentor—a summer program for revision, uses other writers and authors as mentors. This contest has a long work period, and the agent round is optional, program touts itself as being more about the mentorship and learning that acquiring an agent. Because it’s only for children’s literature, it’s got a number of categories, not just for MG, but for everything around and in between.

So, the question became: what did my little chaos kid need?

Does he need to get out on the query circuit soon? Does he need deconstruction by editors with a focus on what the market wants, with only six to eight weeks to shape up and go forth? Or does he need the chance to mature as a story, exploring all of who he is and can be, with no pressure to conform to market standards until he is ready to do so? Does he need college or camp?

I had never looked at a contest this way before—in terms not of what I need, but what I want for the story. Most of the time, I look at the mentors and their wish-lists, not at me, my work, and what I want for it first and foremost. I’m so used to considering what I can get out of the experience instead of what I want to get out of the experience for my work and for me. Once I did that, I knew exactly what contest was the best on for my sweet fairy moth-boy, the bug he cares for, and all his wild antics involving birds, bees, and costume changes.

Sometimes summer camp is exactly where a kid needs to be.

Million Word Madness: 18,602

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