Expectations are the bane of existence for anyone entering a contest. Any type of contest, actually. Because when you enter, you want to win. Or at least that's my modus operandi. (Entering to lose is best left for the politicians, thank you very much.)

So when you get that fabulous email regarding that fabulous writing contest you've entered, you expect it to be, well, fabulous.

And it really sucks when it's not.

But it's not all heinous and nasty. Sometimes there really is a touch of silver in that descending cloud of doom. I'll be the first to admit I've been known to shake my fist at the sky and declare that some judges "don't know quality work when they see it!" Or that "my plot involving the marshmallows and the karaoke-loving zombie is totally believable!"

Yeah, it gets pretty darn interesting when I first review the results. Sometimes I play Pink Floyd's The Final Cut just to lighten the mood. Or Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells. Good times, just pass the exorcism ritual guide and I'm all set. ;)

I really wish I could remember to not read the feedback right away, but that's like telling me not to think about chocolate. Or bad '80s videos. It's all part of who I am. Curious and blonde: a verra, verra dangerous combination.

So I had a fun August with three sets of scoresheets from various contests I entered and did not become a finalist in (the fools!). I ranted. I raved. Then the DH suggested I put the dreaded documents of constructive feedback away so that he and the cat could enjoy the last days of summer without hiding in the basement.

Grumbling, I tucked them (the documents, not the family members) into a drawer and waited four whole days before I looked at them again. Okay, maybe three. ;)

Then I started noticing something. With time, the evilness faded away and turned into something...useful. I even found myself nodding once or twice. Sure there were some instances where opinions were clearly divided (especially on the marshmallows being a weapon of mass destruction) and, in a few cases, the jury all agreed (like how some of the zombies weren't loving the karaoke enough to save the world).

It hurt at first, reading that my baby wasn't perfect and had a smelly diaper. But the diaper can be changed.

(Oh, I'm groaning too, my apologies.)

Based on the depth of the judges' feedback on my entries and the encouragement their words provided, I feel like I'm on the right path with this story, even though that diaper needs changing, big time.

And that was something unexpected.

How about you? Have you ever received feedback that changed the way you approached your work?

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