I don’t care what anybody (i.e. my husband – he says if you didn’t get first you didn’t really win) says, it’s a spectacular win. I wish I could say I was utterly brilliant, but that wasn’t the case or I would have gotten first, but I’m not going to pout and be disappointed over winning second place in the short story contest at the Missouri Literary Festival. I was under the impression it was state-wide. Er, apparently anyone in the country could (and did) enter. I’m floored. State is good, but national is astounding.
I’d given up. I thought, if they haven’t called by the middle of September, they aren’t going to call. I figured with trying to arrange everything, they’d call early. It wasn’t a big deal, I had already shrugged it off and clearly I’ve been focusing on strategies for NaNo. For Everything A Time is good, but I just thought well, someone else was better, no biggie. It’s poignant, but maybe poignant wasn’t what they were after.
Alright, someone else was better, but I still got second! I got second, which isn’t dead last! I come from a family with some of the worst luck the world has ever seen. I always figured someone has to lose, might as well be me. I fought with myself to drop that envelope in the mail box and finally just let her go. Wow, look what being a little bit bold did for me. Second. My husband said, stop bragging, no one likes a braggart. I’m going, have you met me? I never get to brag. Then I thought, hold up, wait a minute. What if it was second by default? That happened to me once, I got third in a speech contest because there were only three entrants. You know what? Still a win! Kind of gathering that that wasn’t the case though, since (did I mention this already?) it was a national contest. ;D
The story behind the story is a funny-ish one. I wrote a short story called The Cowboy & His Horse when I was in high school. I was on a Louis L’Amour kick and writing westerns. I was 15 or 16 at the time and I submitted it to the Mark Twain Conference Creative Writer’s Contest, which was judged at my high school. I did well in every category I submitted writing. If I recall correctly, Cowboy got 4th. My English professor came to me one day before class and said one of the judges had accused me of plagiarism. They said no way did a high school kid write that story. I was ticked and insulted but he told me I shouldn’t be mad, he and another teacher had stood up for me and said, yes I was that good a writer. He said that was one of the greatest compliments I could have gotten. He wouldn’t tell me who said it, but I have my suspicions. I’m 99.8% certain it was student teacher. No matter, I can’t even remember her name.
When I wrote Cowboy, not to spoil it, but he dies. The whole point of the story was he went home to die. Mom always said I should have killed the horse. We still bicker about whether that horse dies. Ten years and counting and she says the horse ought to get eaten by a cougar. I called her last night to tell her the excellent news (she was thrilled) and then she said, you’d have won if you’d let the horse die. Nope, horsey lives. I deserve celebratory cheesecake, again.
So anyway, if you’re in the downtown area on Friday around six-ish (I’m still fuzzy on the details), the finalists from the contests are doing a short reading at the library there. I’ll be there. I might be coughing my head off, because I can’t shake the cough, but me and that faithful cowboy will be there.
It probably sounds uber-cheesy, but it’s a win for my dad, who told me I could do anything I put my mind to. I’m kind of waiting for a bolt of lightning to strike me or a plane to fall on the house.