It's funny the emotional journey associated with this project. Early on, I had to rally my courage just to let my beta-reader see it. Later, my sister expressed her regrets that she didn't have time to read it at the moment, and I told her that I would let her read it later if it won (and that, if it didn't, "nevermind - because it must not have been worth reading anyway"). Then I let two young friends read it because they were so excited and encouraging and willing to offer their feedback. And now, I am leaning back with a feeling of satisfaction and a tingling hope that it just might win. It's the craziest feeling ever.
I know a number of skilled, talented writers who are entering this contest. Frankly, it's a little intimidating. I feel like they have so much more experience than I do, and I wonder (since they seem so confident) whether my story even has a chance. And that is not the feeling that I want to give you when you read of my "tingling hope." Instead, I want to instill in you the understanding that any of us have a chance...and even more so if we work on our craft. I want to promise that, even if a first draft doesn't seem prize-worthy, it can be improved upon. I want to assure you that, somewhere down the line, you will look at your revised manuscript with a smile and say "THIS is better."
And, yes, it is a pretty cool feeling.