®contest made it to the finals.
That phone call is one of several sorts of "The Call" a writer can get. There's The Call from an agent saying she'll represent you, The Call from an editor saying they'll publish your manuscript, The Call from your agent saying that he got The Call from an editor, etc.
The "You're a Golden Heart
®Finalist" Call doesn't ensure that you'll get an agent, The Call from the agent doesn't ensure that you'll get published, and The Call about publication doesn't mean you won't die in the mid-list or something. No phone call is a guarantee of ultimate success -- unless, unbeknownst to us mere mortals, The Call from Nora Roberts tells other elite authors, "It's official. You've arrived!" -- but getting The Call marks a threshold to the next stage.
I submitted Love in Reality to the Golden Heart
®competition (for single-title contemporary). I know it can't win (the synopsis is lousy) but it's not impossible that it might final. Which means it is not impossible that I could get The Call on Friday.
Now, I could wait until Saturday to blog about how I feel about The Call after I did or did not get one, but where's the fun in that? I'm all about Schrödinger's Cat -- I want to blog about the possibility of getting The Call and what that means. You might be surprised -- I don't see it as a "consummation devoutly to be wished." (Which is probably a good thing -- turns out that's a snippet from Hamlet's soliloquy about death...)
If Love in Reality finals and I get The Call, it means I step on to a moving walkway -- those conveyor belt-like contraptions at airports to get you along long hallways faster -- toward the next tasks needed for publication. Those moving walkways are great when your feet hurt and you're lugging various bits of carry-on luggage. They are not so great if what you want to do is get to that ladies' room you just saw, or buy a newspaper or a coffee at a kiosk the walkway is bypassing.
What if my writing isn't ready? What if I'm not ready? In that situation, I'd rather not get The Call. (I don't want to find out the hard way if there's a slight stigma to being a GH finalist who then doesn't get an agent, a publishing contract, etc. Apart from this blog -- which very few people read -- virtually no one even knows I submitted Love in Reality for the Golden Heart
®, so if I don't final, it can't count against me.)
Clarissa Southwick over at Lady Scribes posted a wonderful blog telling us what to expect if we get The Call on Friday. There's a lot of visibility inherent in everything she describes. Is my writing ready for that? Maybe it is, in which case it could be disappointing not to final.
Ultimately, this situation makes me think of medical tests. Submitting a manuscript to the Golden Heart
®contest is a bit like having your blood drawn. If I get The Call, I have the disease. Oh, c'mon -- not all diseases are fatal, you know. Some just require a lifestyle adjustment. Golden Heart
®Finalist is one of that sort of disease -- I'll have to live a bit differently for the foreseeable future.
If I don't get The Call, that doesn't mean a lifestyle adjustment isn't in my future -- it must means it's not in my present.
Here's a post at the New York Times on a non-metaphorical either/or situation. In it, Dr. Bach -- a cancer researcher and physician -- writes about his wife's breast cancer and how they asked her oncologist for a probability that her cancer would recur. The oncologist refused to give a number -- 1-in-50 or 1-in-4 -- and said simply, "It either will or it won't." His point was, no number could make either outcome happen or disappear, so they would have to live with the uncertainty.
I'll either get The Call or I won't. I'll still need to pitch and/or query agents, and that will lead to more uncertainty. If I get an agent, I'll then be waiting to hear if my manuscript has been accepted for publication. More uncertainty. Unless Nora Roberts calls me, I'm living with uncertainty for a long, long time.
Welcome to a writer's life.
For the record, I predict I will not get The Call on Friday. But I'll tell you either way.