Wednesday, December 28, 2011


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.


  1. Good for you for entering the contest! It takes a lot of rejections before finding the right desk for your work to cross. I am still looking too!

  2. Writing is very much a banana peel existence -- and I, too, dreamed of winning my first contest and being hailed as the next great writer out there. Well, that may not have happened, but I'm still the greatest ME out there, in fact I'm the only one (as are you) -- each of us is the only one who can write the story we have to tell, and can say it the way we are meant to say it. But that takes work, and writing, writing, and more writing, and learning from others, and writing some more, and yes, slipping on more than a few banana peels. Some day, however, after all that writing and editing and learning and slipping and getting back up you and I will actually get to taste the banana. And won't that be something to celebrate?

  3. Ahhh, Elizabeth, you can look at this adventure one of two ways. While it is quite natural to be disappointed if your piece wasn't selected this time, but that doesn't mean you should put down your pen and call it quits. THAT would be the easy way out and one way to look at things. can look at it as your entry isn't ready YET and look at it with new eyes or even ask others for their input on how to maybe improve it. But however you look at it, never forget that it took great personal bravery for even entering and for that I salute you!

  4. We all wear the badge of rejection. It just adds to our determination. You have a wonderful sense of humor going for you and I can see that translated into your writing. Love the banana peel anology. Yep -- that's what it feels like. Glad you joined us, because it is important to have the support of other writers -- and the children's writers are the best! We're there to support.

  5. Be ENCOURAGED! And, think of it this way, you got your first rejection... Congratulations! A celebration is in order! Someone bring this girl some champagne!
    I know this doesn't help (hell, it downright annoyed ME when I was told this at the beginning)but, it really IS going to become a part of your routine: Open mailbox, receive rejection letter, throw a temper tantrum, give up on life, swear you'll never write again... Submit somewhere else, repeat.
    Be proud of yourself. 2,000 losses equal a whole bunch of lessons learned... And one day, a published piece to be exuberant over.

  6. I was curious of the title of this post, and smiled to myself when I read it and the comments that followed. You are not alone Elizabeth, tomorrow is another day and I hope these comments motivate you into a committed 2012, along with the rest of us.

  7. I'm right there with you, girl. As author of Jelly Bean's Christmas, I didn't make the finalists OR even get an honorable mention! Lol! Hang in there. Today is a new day! ;). I'm breaking Jelly Bean out of rhyme and going to expand it to a more fleshed out pb manuscript. That makes the contest a winner in my mind.