You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you're working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success--but only if you persist.
I'm an official entrant in the 2006 Amber Heat Wave contest. I was planning to wait until after I got my additional feedback from my reader, but I was too impatient to wait any longer. So now it's done, and I've selected the consolation prize I want if my story isn't selected. It's either this T-shirt or this one. I'm leaning toward the first one: Got Plot? I think it's fun.
Tonight I decided to read Office Relations aloud before sending it to the contest. I'm so, so glad I did. I caught a lot of small things like continuity issues, repetitions, and a few awkward phrases. I plan to do this with all my stories now, although this one is only a little more than 10,000 words. Longer stories will take a lot more time to read aloud.
Wish me luck! The winners are announced March 1.