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Okay, so it’s only a flesh wound and I’ll live to fight again.

A fiction writer creates more than words. She creates lives, settings, emotions—the stories of people who don’t exist. But one of the hardest things for that writer to do is send those creations off to be judged by those who don’t know her friends as well as she does. 

I had the privilege of having a scene from my (unpublished) book, Waiting For Yesterday, chosen to participate in the March 2011 clash on Clash of the Titles. This website generally uses two submitted excerpts from published novels and pits them against each other. Readers vote for the one that appeals to them most based on the theme for the week.

This month, they are using emotionally intense scenes from unpublished novels. Frankly, I was honored to be picked from the “avalanche” of submissions the hostesses waded through. In fact, they had so many, they expanded the clash from the normal two weeks to a full month.

It was hard putting my words out there for a large amount of people to see and judge. I’m used to sending my babies to one person at a time or, as in the case of my critique partners, four. When I do, it’s like sealing my words in a brown envelope and sliding them under the door after closing time. But the whole World Wide Web? That’s was like throwing open the door and dancing through, shouting, “I’m here! And look what I brought!”

You might ask, “Well, what’s different about that from what you do on this blog? It’s out there for everyone to see.” True, but this is fun. Even though I spend a good bit of time on my posts, I sweat blood over my fiction. I live with those people for months. Every word, every description, every bit of dialogue has to be just right.

Competition is a great way to improve a writer’s work. Each time I read what I submitted to the hostesses of the clash, I found ways to improve it—to go even deeper into my heroine’s emotions to affect those of the reader. If I’m not willing to learn from these types of opportunities, then I don’t need to be seeking publication. 

No, I didn’t make it to the final round, but I’m thankful for the experience of the competition and the interview. It was another outlet for marketing myself and my work. Besides, I’m preparing for the time when an entire book with my name on the cover is put out there for the Whole Wide World to see. 

So…

What Say You?

When was the last time you left your comfort zone to risk being struck down? How did it turn out? Did you learn anything from it? Did it make you stronger?

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