A few weeks ago I posted about a short story competition I was entering. On January 9, I sent my submission in. For the last almost three weeks I have been waiting to hear back. The competition ends in ten hours and the winner will be announced either later this afternoon or tomorrow.
For the last three weeks I have been sitting here beating myself up for submitting what I wrote, telling myself I should have sent something else in, should have written something more cut and dry, straight up romance rather that what seemed to be the beginning or a selection from something previously written. I was so mad at myself for not doing a better job, even though the few people who read the story loved it; my oldest daughter cried, my husband said he cried (he's not home so who knows if he's being truthful or stroking my ego, lol), a writer friend said she cried.
Then Saturday, I'm at work, taking them pictures, getting kids to smile. When I go to take a short break to grab a candy bar so I don't keel over from lack of sugar and freak some kid out, I grab my phone, run over to the break room and grab a kit kat. While hiding out and wolfing down my treat, I check my messages, make sure the baby is okay at the sitters, reply to a text from the Mister, and check my email.
When I open my email, I see one from the publishing house hosting the contest and my heart literally freaking stopped.
And not from low blood sugar.
With fingers shaking (from low blood sugar and fear and excitement) i open the email and read it.
like four times.
I'm so not kidding.
I had to reread it that many times to make sure I wasn't dreaming.
I choke down my kit kat and run back to the studio, grab my bestie who is also my boss (sounds like it would be super awkward but totally isn't) and shove my phone at her, demanding, "Read this and tell me that I'm not crazy, that this means what i think it means."
Of course the slow poke reader takes FOREVER to read it. I'm standing there, bouncing up and down, literally vibrating from the roots of my hair to the tips of my toes. She turns and looks at me.
"What is this from- oh wait, is this the contest?"
I nod and she smiles.
"Dude, this is amazing. He loved your story!"
He liked my story.
HE FUCKING LIKED MY STORY!!!
(there goes one of my new's years resolutions)
I am floored.
I keep reading and rereading this little nugget.
I remember back when I started writing, my husband would pester me for writing fanfiction. I told him I wrote because it was fun, because I enjoyed it and because an Elton John song inspired me to do so. I would keep at it for fun, for as long as I had something to say and all I wanted out of it was for someone, somewhere to read my work and go, "Okay. This chick gets it," whatever "it" may be, I wanted to be the kind of writer that people could relate their life to through my work.
I told my husband tonight that all of my writing is true on some level. Not everything, and not all of it, but there are a great many things that happen in my stories that I have lived through, that I have experienced.
A miscarriage like in Pictures of You.
Issues with my mother like in Unattached.
The loss of a very dear friend like in Full Circle.
It's just crazy to think that I've known since I was 12 years old that writing, being a writer, is what I've wanted to do. I remember getting this journal in like fifth grade, it was dark purple and on the inside it had spaces to write what you wanted to be when you grew up, who you're friends were, where you lived, etc. I wrote in there that i wanted to be a writer.
I remember that same year my parents grounded me and when they did, they took all my books (except one that I expertly hid, haha). it was about the underground railroad and slavery. I read that book so many times, over and over again because i was so bored. I remember taking an old diary and starting my own story about the underground railroad and this girl who moves into this house that was part of it and subsequently haunted by the ghosts of slaves who didn't make it to freedom.
And now here we are 22 years later. Staring at an email that says I've written a story that a man who does not like romance, likes. and can relate to, and understand and that I have nailed what I've written.
I did it. despite of the demons in my head telling me I was wrong, the voices of the past telling me I could never be good enough. despite my own self doubt and fears and insecurities.
I fucking did it.