31 August 2015

"Win" or "Lose," Pitch Wars Might Change Your Life

When entering online writing contests like Pitch Wars, it's important to remember that, whether you make it to the next level or not, simply taking that step forward to bravely enter might be the catalyst that changes your life forever. 
 I've written about this subject many times before. Many times. Like here, here, here, and here. And here. I've talked about how I got my agent after NOT getting picked in a contest. And how my debut novel, TWELVE STEPS, was both inspired by a contest rejection AND how success in a contest ultimately led to publication.

You might think that I've already exhausted the subject, and I couldn't possibly have anything more to say. Unless, of course, you've ever met me. Because then you'll know that I'm constantly looking for new insights and lessons to learn from the trials I go through.

Three years ago at this time, I was a Pitch Wars hopeful, biting my nails to oblivion while I nervously waited for the mentor picks to be announced. In case you haven't read the blog posts I linked to above, I wasn't picked for the contest. And I was devastated. I wanted to give up on writing altogether.

But my amazing new writing friends ... all the people I met in the contest trenches ... wouldn't let me give up. So instead of packing away my story pencils, I wrote something new. (And that manuscript went on to become my debut novel.)

Last year, and the year before, I participated in Pitch Wars on the other side of the glass, as a mentor. And I got to meet a TON of amazing writers. My fellow mentors. My mentees. Writers who submitted their manuscripts to me, who I wanted to choose but couldn't. Writers who chatted with me on the Twitter #PitchWars hashtag. I've met my best writing friends in the contest trenches.

But you already knew all of that, didn't you? I've told these stories hundreds of times, so why bother writing yet another post to rehash the same old tales?

Because when I tell you that participating in  Pitch Wars might change your life, I'm not just talking about your writing career.

If you read my blog regularly or follow me on Twitter, you probably know that last April, I was thrilled to hear that the Air Force was sending us back to Maryland, back "home," back to the area where the climate is best suited to help with my health issues. And you probably know that in May, I was devastated to discover that my home had been destroyed by water and mold. And you probably even saw one or both of the auctions that friends in the publishing community put together to help raise funds for the repairs, when the insurance company refused to pay.

You've probably seen my repeated posts, thanking people for their help and support, and counting the many, many blessings that have come from this particular trial. I honestly don't know I could get through each day without the support I see from my friends.

And here's the thing, folks: The majority of those people helping me and supporting me and carrying me through the trials when I literally can't walk another step on my own? Guess where we met? Yep. Through Pitch Wars and other, similar, online contests. Even the friend of a friend I mentioned last Friday ... the one who helped me find a temporary place to live so my family and I won't be homeless while we're trying to repair our house. You guessed it. The mutual friend connecting us was one of the writers I met in this amazing community.

When I say that Pitch Wars changed my life, I mean it. Yes, the experience made me a better writer. Yes, I credit much of my publishing success to the lessons I learned from both successes and failures in the contest trenches. But publishing success is only a part of what makes Pitch Wars great. The real value in these online contests is the connection you make with other writers. 

The friendships you forge here may be the relationships that carry you through when the stress of real life pushes you down. That's the true value of Pitch Wars.

For other perspectives on how Pitch Wars changes lives, check out the stories and advice in this blog hop with messages from last year's Pitch Wars mentees.

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