I am a slut. A novice, certifiable, basket-case RWA writing contest slut.

Before I ventured down this new path, I ran the idea past my CPs.
Go for it! What’s the worst that can happen? You get detailed feedback from trained, experienced judges. You might even final!
Three words crazy-glued themselves in grey matter behind my right ear. It was not an oh-my-gosh-I-might-even-final-pink-highlighted-goose-bumped visceral. The words sprouted wings and soared from ear to shining ear, gained momentum. “Might even final?” “Might even final?” “Might even final?”
I—a delusional perfectionist with more self-defeating behaviors than Shirley Temple had ringlets in Good Ship Lollypop—internalized those words as a challenge.
Sherry snapped my validation-hungry garter and spared herself. “You’ve looked at it a gazillion times. Follow the rules. Pay your fee and send it. You. MIGHT. Even. Final.” Sherry knew me too well. Worse, she knew Gracie.
Gracie, my borderline OCD inner editor, had her way with my beginning pages so often, my beaten and battered write-forward-new-page-construction crew enrolled in line-dance classes.
Still, a little tweak couldn’t hurt. A fresh look by new CP, IMC2 Dallas Grad Laura, seemed a prudent choice. She endured a cycle of “how about this” rewrites—not unlike my propensity to season stew until a taste-tester shouts “eureka!”