Daily Archives: April 30, 2012

Writing is Like State Speech–many will enter, few will win.

For the record, my speechie pulled sixth place at the state speech tournament two weekends ago.  After a grueling day of four rounds, he received a medal.  A nice big medal.  Belt buckle size.

I’m super proud of this accomplishment, and I hope he is, too.  You see, first doesn’t mean that any place behind it is null and void.  In fact, over 330 schools participated in Class 1A speech this past season.  Three hundred and thirty some.

Sound a little bit like writing?

If 330 aspiring writers sent off their manuscripts to an agent, the agent would request to see about 33 of them–or 10%.  In speech terms, this would be the narrowing down of kids via subsections and sections, where only 24 brave and articulate souls made it to state in each of the 13 categories (think genres).

While there, they had to perform in front of peers and judges to earn a spot in final rounds.  Only the top eight speechies in each category advanced to the stage to present their speech in front of a panel of judges.

Again, just like writing, the estimate on the streets is that two percent of writers will garner agent representation and make it to this prestigious round.  330 x 2% = 7ish.  I know.  Scary and disconcerting, right?  Yet my speechie didn’t choke and quit halfway through.  No, he prepared speech after speech after speech to make it into that elite 2%.  In writing terms, he nabbed his agent.

But lest we believe garnering interest of an agent is the end of the odds, consider further.  Of the 2% of writers who receive representation on a first novel, only half of them will get published.  ONLY HALF.

Holy crap!  Why bother, right?  I mean, of those 330 speechies writers, only 3-4 of them will get published.  With odds like that, we might as well dance in an electrical storm holding metal umbrellas.  At least then we’d have something to jolt us into reality.

But reality is that the top ten percent is something to be proud of.  It means we’re doing something right.  It means we’re getting closer.  It means we have a chance.

Garnering the backing of an agent is incredible.  It’s amazing and thrilling and wow…just wow!  Making it to final rounds during State Speech is incredible.  The top two percent of anything is outstanding and a great accomplishment.

Sixth in State.  It gets us a medal.  It tells us we’ve  wowed a panel of judges and deserve to be recognized.  The only thing it doesn’t give us is a publishing contract.

Yet.

Next year.  Next season.  Next manuscript.

Ten percent, two percent, one.

Dearest writers, how do you feel about where you’re at on the journey?  Have you cleared sections and made it to state?  Did you break finals and get to compete for that medal?  Have you missed it by *thismuch*? 

What are your plans for continuing?  Does this post make alternative publishing routes sound more appealing to you, or have you already begun walking that path?  If so, what are your experiences?

Curious minds want to know.