Well hello there. I'm back. A little older, a little wiser, and a bit chubbier.
During this last winter holiday, while others' noggins were dreaming of dancing, sugar plum fairies, my dreams were filled with scenes of post-holiday writing contest triumph.
Dancing in this noggin of mine were one-way conversations such as...
"What? I won? Me? No! But I just started writing! It couldn't be? I don't deserve it. This is all happening so fast!"
Also dancing in this noggin of mine were visions of my writing career taking flight due to the recent successful contest outcome. Agents would hear of this novice writer who just happened to win the contest, with such raw talent. I would then be jetted off to book signings and school visits, and speaking at conferences about how I began my writing career.
Outside of this noggin of mine, in real life, my husband would ask as we awaited the contest results,"Are you excited? Are you nervous?"
"I would just be happy to be one of the top three finalists, honestly" I admitted.
Ah... but 'twas all a dream. A dream right up there alongside one curious, nocturnal encounter/one night stand with Agent Skinner from X Files or my confusing delivery room dream where I gave birth to my husband.
Not only did I not make the top three contest finalists, but I didn't even make the top SIX contenders! Yikes!
Was I disappointed? Ashamedly, yes! I didn't even want to eat a piece of fudge to soothe my pain!(Not even fudge? Good Lord, help the girl!) I was able to pin my disappointment on the fact that this was my first public writing experience and I guess I was looking for some kind of approval or better yet, some kind of sign that I was on the right path.
Of course, I am not suggesting my entry was stronger than the others submitted by any means. Honestly, I did not deserve to win. All of the entries were so creative and unique. I am still in awe of how polished these writers were (as well as amazingly supportive towards others in the group). You should read these other entries at at Susanna Leonard Hill's blog. (I especially loved the Fishmas and Jelly Bean versions.)
After the contest results were released I came to the very rational conclusion that writing just wasn't for me. My mind tried to calculate all of the wasted hours spent writing stories and revising them, with bouts of spousal spats and the occasional neglected child. Was writing now another hobby to go by the wayside like my short stint of snow globe collecting or my Tae Bo workout regimen?
With well-intentioned, encouraging words such as, "Don't be upset. You're not that bad. You're all right" (insert the truth hurts, guttural sobs here) and "Besides, you can't quit now. I just got you a SCBWI membership"(insert snort laugh here), I drooled my way to sleep, hoping to wake up with a clearer head.
Lucky for me, rational thought made a strong comeback after a few, good hours sleep.
What effect did rational thought have on my outlook you ask? Well, let us return to the oh-so-relevant title of my blog: Banana Peelin' shall we?
My contest entry and loss is my first public banana peel slip in the writing world. I took a risk by putting my work out there and it didn't pan out the way I had hoped. I faced my biggest fear and insecurity: Having someone read my work and say, "Hmmm... What is she thinking? SHE wants to be a writer? She stinks!"
Not finishing top in a contest makes this fear seem to be more of a reality. It is a humbling experience to say the least. But thankfully, it is also motivating.
Mark Twain said, "The only difference between a published author and an unpublished author, is the published one didn't give up." Although my fearful and insecure-self might have given up after a contest loss or critique or ten, my rational-self feels motivated to continue working on her writing abilities.
However,with that being said, I am very aware that I will continually face the great internal debate:
FEAR OF THE BANANA PEEL V. TWAIN
I have to believe that this is the greatest struggle for anyone pursuing their dream.