Today comes the final announcement for a writing contest you entered, and you long more than anything to be that lucky writer.
So, go ahead—pretend you are not as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. Bluster about how you’ve submitted your work hundreds of times and grown a thick hide to shield your soul from rejection. Fake that you haven’t thrown a lot of emotional coinage onto the craps table this time.
Que sera sera.
Right. Uh huh. Anyone else buying this?
Didn’t think so, and neither are you. YOU, the one who’s faking cool cucumber-ness in the first place. Arrogance is only as good as the results one receives when touting oneself, and you, being supremely arrogant, prefer to shoot for the big prizes rather than more attainable ones. Sooner or later it’s going to pay off, that’s what you say.
Or are you delusional?
Ah, that niggling voice of doubt, the one you never let out of the cage. The one that says maybe you ought to lower your standards. Plenty of folks win recognition for writing swiftly, editing less, and grasping at dozens of modest-rank projects. Plenty of journeyman writers do well with self-publishing their own work. Why not do as they do, and while you’re at it pick a genre that’s guaranteed a wide audience, and pick an author’s voice that isn’t so nose-in-the-air.
It’s torment, these deadlines. In fact, at the very instant you wrote that last line, your email chime dinged and your blood pressure surged. Nope, just a tag from one of your friends. Meanwhile, you’ve been available all day and no one has called. Noon, Eastern time. The contest was sponsored by a European country, where it’s nearly five o’clock. That’s it, then. You know deep inside it is over; they’re currently trying to reach somebody else.
Your stomach continues to clench, joined now by a thrum of deep disappointment. A familiar sensation that you tried, but overreached your ability to best better writers all over the globe. What now? Do you bury the frustration, cry a bit in private, or have an extra drink later this evening? Perhaps all of the above. Do you pick yourself up and try all over again? Absolutely. Will you lower your standards and enter the industry from a different track?
Not bloody likely.
That’s how stubborn you are, but it’s also a reflection of how much you believe in yourself. One person’s delusion is another person’s reason to get up tomorrow. You’ll lift your chin and forge on. You’ll find another contest to enter, another story to write, another venue to conquer. No doubt you’ll keep doing this till they bury you.
Take an extra antacid today, Coll. Shed a tear or two over the keyboard. Then lift your chin and let your fingertips fly over the keys.
To read more of Colleen’s letters, click here!