Monday, November 26, 2007

The Prize

I set my first real goal - the ‘put it out there and be embarrassed if you don't go for it’ kind of goal - in September when I decided to enter our RWA chapter contest. Deadline: October 8th.

So, when Margie Lawson's Deep Edits class began in October, I had about 6 or 7K written on a story that was close to my heart but wasn't going anywhere.

That class changed things for me concerning my writing. I learned soOoo much, my writing improved and I met my talented CP, Leah, who has become a friend as well as a great editing partner. How we chose each other across miles and borders of fiber in an online class of 90 or more is, in itself, amazing.

The chapter contest deadline passed and I knew I'd missed my first goal. I told myself I'd shoot for one with a deadline in mid-November.

Fortuitously, toward the end of the third week, I chose the first six pages of the new version to compare to the old as Margie suggested to see if I liked the improvements. That was on Thursday or Friday. On Saturday while my partner and I were working on this assignment I received an email from the contest coordinators advising of the new deadline - in two days!

I raced around like a crazy chicken. Leah, could tell you I forgot how to do everything I'd taught others to do in Word! I was panicked. I was going to meet my first goal of submitting my first contest entry. Not coincidentally, the contest requirement was the first five pages! We edited and I shaved and deleted and tightened until it was a perfectly full five pages. Then with a prayer, I sent it off.

This morning - OMG - I got the news that I'm a finalist in my category! Some might say ‘what the heck is she so excited about, she hasn't won’. But I believe we must each keep our personal journey in perspective.

For example, I'm a professional singer. My husband said he quit singing in the shower when he married me. Why? Because his voice wasn't as good as mine? What a loss. Do all the birds sound the same, some of them are meant to crow and caw and even croak and it’s beautiful to the creator’s ears and integral to the song of the forest.

When Leah and I began to count treadmill minutes in addition to word count, I didn't think she'd out-walk me in under a week. But that doesn't mean I'll quit, I mean, good grief, she used to do 200 push ups! The encouragement and accountability is helping me achieve my personal goal of being healthier, not to win the treadmill Olympics.

My goals are as individual as I am. But the the atta-girl strokes, our common goals to do more, write more, be more are universal.

No, I didn't win. The final deadline is January. Each of us has our own writing enemy whether it's our internal (and external) editors, family, or work stresses. My biggest struggle seems to be not believing in myself so that I constantly organize, plan, edit - I resist just going for it. Well, this time I did. It's a small step but I feel like a winner in my own personal contest. The main prize was the new writer friends and thumbs up from long time friends.

Thank you all, but especially Leah.


Wylie Kinson said...

That's terrific, Marley! A finalist in your first contest - WOOT!!

Leah Braemel said...

OMG, Marley, this is fantastic news! Congratulations! And though I made some suggestions, you deserve all the kudos!