So the New Voices competition has been open for a week now and I, like so many of my esteemed unpublished blogfriends, have been glued to the website: scanning for names we know and reading countless first chapters. At first, when the count was around 80-odd I was thinking to myself, it's okay - it's still possible to stand out in that many entries. But as the entry count climbed my confidence in standing out began to decrease. Now my personal little motto at the moment is to be confident and to appreciate everything so I rallied myself, *slaps self then rubs sore spot* and squared my metaphorical shoulders and jumped back into editing and polishing my chapter.
Problem is that I've been over it and over it; changing this, adding that (then removing it after wondering what on earth possessed me to add it in the first place), swapping paragraphs, deleting unnecessary, non-essential, extraneous, superfluous adjectives. And then there's my main characters. Boy have I given them a grilling.
Me: Look you're just not hooking the readers here.
Heroine: I'm not? Well, I'm sorry...
Me: Sorry's not good enough. I need you to try harder. Do something different.
Heroine: Like what?
Me: Table dancing? Nope that's been done already. Can't you think of something?
Heroine: (crosses arms and looks stroppy)
Me: Fine, I'll think of something..........
And that's the cue for Frustration to make an entrance. I know that Frustration can, and frequently does, make an entrance at all points along the writing continuum but so far I've been lucky and this story has flowed reasonably easily. If I'm completely honest, I think I invited Frustration in this time. I'm striving for perfection (nothing wrong with that), and reading lots of other first chapters (again, nothing wrong with that), and trying to put myself in the shoes of a reader seeing my chapter for the very first time and not knowing what happens next (still nothing wrong). But when you add them all together and team them with a teensy weensy crisis of confidence and a deadline and a bizarre desire to have someone else read what I've slaved over for weeks/months and........voila! Frustration swans in.
Of course I intend on showing Frustration the door on my way out. I'm off cyber shopping for another pair of shoes and because I'm feeling so grrrrrr I may just shell out for a matching handbag! I'm confident I'll find something divine and I promise I'll appreciate every cyber square inch of them.