So, apologies for being incommunicado for a while, but I was off on vacation and then got some excellent news that had my nose to the grindstone–or the laptop–for most of January. It also taught me a whole bunch of interesting things about myself and other people.
A few months ago I entered my WIP in a contest, the kind where you submit the first fifty or so pages, along with a synopsis, and then wait to see if you are asked for the full. I did it mainly as an exercise, to force myself to commit to a NaNoWriMo project by doing some of the thinking in advance. Getting asked for the entire manuscript seemed like an impossibility.
Well, of course you can guess what happened: I got a request to send in the whole thing on less than two weeks’ notice. Luckily, I did have a manuscript, but I hadn’t spent nearly as much time polishing it as I would have if I’d had more confidence in my work. That was the first lesson: stop selling myself short. Lack of confidence can create self-fulfilling prophesies.
I got my butt into gear–or into the seat of the chair–and polished my manuscript as much as I could, finally sending it off twenty minutes before the post office closed on deadline day. Although I’m still kicking myself for not working on the assumption that I needed to be ready for that request, I still ended up with a good piece of work. I’m glad I didn’t give in to my initial fear-driven impulse withdraw from the contest. Lesson two: I can accomplish more than I think when I really put my mind to it.
I was quite surprised, though, to get a snarky comment from a fellow writer who had previously been supportive. I told a couple of friends about it, and their immediate response was “she’s envious,” which makes sense, because while she’s had a few short stories published, she’s never finished a novel, let alone had one short-listed for a major contest.
Anyway, while her reaction has disappointed me, I learned several things from it. On a micro scale, I don’t need this lady’s approval. The big lesson was that it feels much better to be on the receiving end of envy than vice versa. I realized that, due to a whole bunch of factors in my family of origin, I’ve been afraid to really spread my wings in certain areas because it might arouse negativity from others. Experiencing someone’s direct envy, and not being destroyed by it, is very liberating for me.
The really sad part of this, though, is that if she’d been willing to have a conversation with me about it, I would have said a few things that might have made her feel better. After all, I have no illusions that my writing is any better than hers. She’s very talented. But, the bottom line is that my submission got long-listed because a) I entered the contest and b) a manuscript existed. You have a much better chance of winning a contest, or getting published, if you write something and send it out. It’s a good reminder to myself, too, that next time I’m envious of somebody I should look at the things that person might be doing that I’m not.
*12X12 is my commitment to write at least monthly on something related to my #Reverb11 work. My theme for the year is “release,” and I’m pleased that I have let go of some of my fear, people-pleasing, and permission-seeking. So far, so good.