That’s what I got from the Presents contest.
Thank you for submitting your first chapter to The Harlequin Presents Writing Competition 2009. The winners have now been notified and we’re sorry to say that your entry was not successful.
You may be wondering if you should revise your story? On the whole, we’d advise against this, but instead recommend that you start afresh with something completely new. Of course, we understand that you’ll want to know the reasons why your chapter didn’t make it into our shortlist, but unfortunately we can’t give individual feedback to every entrant. However you may want to take a look at the most common mistakes we saw in this year’s competition entries, which you can find here: http://www.iheartpresents.com/2009/11/contest-update-feedback-from-the-editors/
We appreciate your interest in Harlequin Mills & Boon and wish you all success with your future writing.
It wasn’t completely a surprise, though obviously not what I’d hoped for. I thought this story was a lot better than my entry last time, which did get some personal feedback. To be honest, I though there was a better chance I’d get asked to send more than that I would get the R.
I was wrong.
I’m a bizarre mix of devastated and relieved.
Devastated that they apparently didn’t find anything at all to like in my story. That totally impersonal form rejection, a massive contrast to the personalised ones they are also sending out.
Relieved that it was a blessedly fast response. Relieved that I can work on the new story I’ve started plotting and character development for (I actually found myself thinking, “Hope I don’t get a full request on Luk and Emma, I really want to write this story,” this morning on the train- must have known something!). Relieved because at last I can take off this Presents straitjacket and try writing what I want to write instead of what I should write. Don’t get me wrong. There are some fabulous Presents writers I’m going to keep on loving to read. I just know I won’t be one of them. And straitjacket isn’t the right word. More like holding my breath permanently to kid myself I can fit into those two-sizes-too-small skinny designer jeans, when I just want to get back into my flowery dresses and relax.
I know Presents is not the line for me to keep targeting. I’m not right for it and it’s not right for me. I had to pretty much gut my story to “Presentise” it. Out went the secondary characters. Out went the subplots. Alphaing up my hero did not come naturally to me, he wanted to be kind and nice to the heroine!
I don’t feel I’ve failed. I said this to a friend who also had the form R-“It’s only quitting it you quit writing. It’s called learning, if after giving it your best shot you decide you fit better somewhere else.” I think that’s true for me too.
I’m not sorry I tried again. I’ve learned a lot in the process I might never have learned otherwise. But boy, does it feel good to say I will never again write anything aimed at Presents!
My plan is to write my remote area nurse story for JanNo, which will probably be aimed at Superromance. Then while that first draft is sitting I’m going to go back and write the version of Luk and Emma I want to write.
To all the contest entrants today who got an email, whether the form rejection or something more personal, keep on writing. Believe in yourself and your talent, and you will find your “place”, wherever that is.