Thursday, March 28, 2013

Follow up ~ Writing Contest

There are definitely things that I tend to hang on to . . . with clenched fists and for dear life. Usually for the most asinine reasons and often to my detriment. So when I am able to very easily release something, it feels good. And reminds me that..."I got this."

I entered a writing contest last September.
The details and particulars are here... 9th New Thing ~ Releasing the Outcome

A short, non-fiction piece for Real Simple magazine's Life Lessons Essay Contest.
On September 8th, someone sent me a link to the contest. Six days prior to the deadline. Six fun-free days of self-inflicted, torturous pressure.

The magazine's description of the contest began with this question:

  "If you could change one decision that you made in the past, what would it be?"

In 1500 words? Honestly! That's just mean.

As I was scrambling to draft, erase, edit, draft, edit, delete, delete, delete, draft and edit . . .  I remember thinking, "If I only had more time. If I'd started back in May when the contest began...." But the truth is, more time is the perfect breeding ground for over-thinking a thing. When I'm not looking, I can easily think things directly into a state of mediocrity. Ordinary.....hmmm.....when is that ever a good thing? The truth is, if I'd have known about this contest months earlier, I'd simply have had more time to chew on it.

In the original blog post, I said that the piece I wrote was a bit naked and raw. This might be understating it.

Now, there's raw fiction and there's raw non-fiction. Folks seem to have an easier time with raw fiction. Not everyone can handle real life. They really just want the make-believe stuff.
This piece was real life. MY real life. I felt vulnerable submitting this story. I scrambled to get it done then holding my breath, gritting my teeth and squinting through my fingers, I clicked SEND.
And in an instant, it was no longer in my clenched fists.
"No getting it back now," I said aloud. "It's out there." I looked around me, over my shoulders...YIKES!

I genuinely did not know what to wish for. Winning the contest and this story being out there for everyone to read? Or not? So I just let it go. Whatever happened, happened. "If it's meant to be made public, then it will be." I couldn't rethink it or I might panic.

It felt incredibly brave to enter. And then it felt incredibly peaceful to release the outcome.

And I really did release the outcome.

And in fact, I released it so well that I forgot about it.  New Things happened. Holidays happened. New Things happened some more. Soon the date that the winners were to be notified, flew right past, without me noticing. Mid-January, I did not get an email telling me that I won. Or that I was one of the two runner's up.

I'm perfectly fine with this outcome. Maybe relieved, even.  My personal challenge wasn't winning the contest, (although that would have been a New Thing). My personal challenge was to be brave enough to write a piece so honest, to send it out into the world and to do it on such a short deadline. I did that!

Back in the Fall, when I posted this New Thing, I had no pictures to offer. I still don't.
Entering a writing contest. Releasing the Outcome. 

I truly believe the best thing happens.
The contest theme was life lessons; clearly those judging thought I was over-qualified.

You can go to the Real Simple website to read the winning entries. Click on the links are in the second paragraph of this article


  1. So what was the essay? You write about the essay but you didn't include it! Now I want to read it!But, then again, you've always been a bit of a tease, haven't you Miss Scarlet? To that,frankly, I don't give a damn.
    Raw non-fiction can be painful in ways that only the person writing can understand. Is it the job of the writer to convey that brutal emotion? Can it be glossed over and made into best sellerdom? I'm thinking of Cheryl Strayed's Wild. For a communal raw non-fictionness (yes, I can make up words) try out Anna Funder's Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall. But I diverge. I skirt the point. Which is being truly rawful to one's own self.
    But to change one decision in one's life. I could think of one that's beating on my forehead Right Now, almost every minute, but that wound is far too fresh to pick at. How about, oh, wait that wound is too deep, I'll never get to the bottom of that one; then there's, . . . you see being true to the raw is difficult. Good for you to trying to get to the bottom of it. That takes brio.

  2. John dear,

    Thank you for your support and timely comment. I can always count on your unwavering smile and wit. I list you among my blessings.

    We'll talk else where very soon. I have an upcoming 'death defying' New Thing that I'm hoping you'll be up for. Interested?

    Take good care, Mister! ~ B