When I was about ten, I entered a writing contest in a children’s magazine. The task was to write a story ending. All I remember was that the story was about some kids who went to school one day and found that it was closed. I was sure I had the “right” answer. What else could it be but that they forgot it was Saturday?
When the issue with the winning entries arrived I raced to the door as soon as I heard the mailman, then practically ripped the pages of the magazine getting to the right section. I quickly scanned the names…then checked again…and again. Mine was not there, and a feeling of deep disappointment fell over me. I was sure I was “right.” Then I started to read. Some of the entries were realistic, but some were pure fantasy. I remember one in particular that explained the reason for school being closed was that it was National Worm Day (explained to the kids by a worm, of course). I clearly remember not understanding why that was considered a better story ending than mine. Creativity was obviously something I had not yet learned to appreciate.
I think I’ve come a long way as a writer since then, but rejection is still hard to take. Because I’m trying to stretch myself as a writer, I decided to enter a holiday story contest a few weeks ago – a story of 250 words or less that had to include a holiday surprise. I struggled a bit, then finally got an idea, wrote what I thought was a fairly good story, then mustered up the courage to send it The feedback I got on it was enough to make me hopeful, although I tried to convince myself that being named one of ten finalists in a field of about a hundred entries was a long shot.
So, last week, I was that little girl of ten again, except that this time my email brought the news. I knew it was coming and kept checking all day, then finally just before I was about to go to bed there it was. I quickly scanned through the finalists…then again…and again. Mine was not there. Oh, well, I thought. It was a good reminder that writing is full of ups and downs, failures and successes. We just have to keep going.
Then this morning I learned that my story received an Honorable Mention for Great Kid Appeal! Yea! I truly am humbled and ecstatic, because that’s what I want to do – write stories with great kid appeal. And that little girl of ten? I think she finally gets it.