For all of you who wanted to know (and for those who didn't) a little shameless self-promotion is about to go down.
In short, I've already mentioned I placed in the top three essays for the STL Writers' Guild contest, but I didn't know HOW I placed (first, second, or third) until tonight (incidentally, first place gets published in a paper with a circulation of 35,000+). And so, without further explanation, I won first place, and I'm telling you, well, I just can't. I'll let my free writing journal entry do it for me. And for the record, smartasses, I don't edit my journal entries. And my love of parentheses knows no bounds. ()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()
Also, a HUGE thank you to all of you who offered your insights into the piece that took the prize. Your support and comments were wonderful. Can I buy y'all bitches a beer???
Wednesday March 12, 2008
It’s almost one in the morning, and I’m still awake. I’m still reeling, unable to really comprehend all that has transpired in the last six hours. I went to my first public reading tonight and read my material, my first-place essay, to a packed house. A crazy thing happened up there at the mic – I couldn't stop shaking. My voice was steady and appropriately dramatic (I am a sucker for the dramatic pause), my body relaxed – except for my damn hands. My hands shook as though I was having some crazy seizure stemming from holding a single piece of printer paper. Whether there were 200 eyes or two million focused on me, it wouldn’t have mattered; I’ve never been afraid of public performance. But my past experiences have always been with someone else’s work. This time it was mine.
I caught a glimpse of myself in the shop windows as I headed into the coffee house. For a moment, I had one of those “do I know you” experiences. Suddenly I saw myself, for the very first time, doing the thing I’ve always wanted to do. And it was amazing. I’ve been a closet writer since I was nine years old, too afraid to put my work up for anyone to see. And tonight, after nearly 20 years of self-doubt, I got to be the person I’ve always wanted to be – the one who wasn’t afraid to be honest about my thoughts, to read the things I think about when no one else is paying attention.
And I loved every minute of it.
The shaking? Well, my best guess is that it was something psychological – or maybe spiritual - like holding my own words in my hands to give them up to other people was like giving birth. Now that I think about it, I haven’t shaken like that since I went into labor with my daughter. And the shaking wasn’t out of fear then, or now – but perhaps out of a sense that my life is changing in ways I couldn’t have dreamed, going in a direction I always knew it should go, but was afraid to pursue.
Some people may say that this is only one contest. To them, firstly I say FUCK YOU – I conquered my fiercest demon. How about you? Secondly, I say that tonight in some sort of metaphysical way, I became myself, not because I won anything, but because I’m being true to myself, to my soul. And that really is all I need to be at the end of the day, no matter what anyone else says or thinks about it.
So now, it’s official – I’m a published writer. And, man, does it feel good. Damn good.