I hope you’ll excuse my being a little immodest today because I want to share something exciting with you. I’m going to be a published author! Are you sitting there thinking, “Wha?” like I did when I first found out? Are you dumbfounded like my friend who just stared blankly at me when I told him?
Let me clarify I wrote a short story that will be published, not a novel. I entered it in Buddhapuss Ink’s Mystery Times Ten YA Short Story Competition, which awards nifty prizes (including a Kindle) to the top three winners, and publication in an anthology for the top ten. I didn’t win the Kindle or any of the cash but my top ten placement, out of over 200 entries, is still beyond my expectations.
Back in January, I decided to enter the competition only four or five days before the submission deadline. I was doing a play at the time, which required rehearsals six days a week with a long commute. I also had deadlines on a couple of reviews for a magazine and needed to finish reading the books I was covering. I was exhausted.
But then I heard about this competition, thought, “Oooh, free Kindle!” and decided to go for it. It was a ridiculous decision in many ways—I’d never written short fiction, I’m not versed in YA, I had no idea if I could write in a young person’s voice, and, oh yeah, I was already overwhelmed with other obligations. But here’s the thing: If I start thinking I can’t do something and coming up with a bunch of excuses for not doing it, that’s when I know I have to do it. Otherwise, I’d have to accept I’m a loser before I even try.
So I wrote for four nights straight until three or four in the morning, sometimes falling asleep over my keyboard. Two days before deadline, I junked most of the story and started again from square two. I wanted to stop, wondering why I was abusing myself. But then the sadistic part of my brain called me a wimp so I kept going.
I submitted my story at 5 p.m. on deadline day. Even with sleep deprivation, I felt elated that I managed to finish it and on time to boot. I had beaten down that internal voice calling me a sissy; I could hear the Rocky theme in my head after I hit “send.” I expected nothing else from the experience because I felt I’d already won.
That’s why the news that I scored high enough to get published is astonishing to me. With this kind of luck, I should head straight to the nearby retirement home and challenge everyone to a game of Bingo. I’m deeply thankful to Buddhapuss for hosting the competition and all the judges who found my story not awful. This encourages me to not only continue writing, but to keep taking on challenges that look scary and daunting. Unless it involves stuffing a turkey, which I know I will never master.