I woke up this morning to the BEST news. I advanced to round three in the NYC Flash Fiction contest. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, a little background: The contest is broken up into four rounds. Everyone writes the first two rounds. Contestants are divided into 25 heats with roughly 40 people per heat. We are given a prompt of genre, location and item at 12 midnight on a Saturday, and we have until 11:59 PM Sunday to write a story of 1000 words or less based on the prompt. In the first two rounds, stories are scored with 15 being the top score. So out of 40+ contestants, only the top 15 receive points. The total of the first two rounds determine who moves to round 3. It’s a simple addition of the round 1 and 2 scores, with the top 5 in each heat advancing.
My scores for The Last Project and Little Wolf were 5 and 13, respectively. I knew I’d have to score strong on Little Wolf in order to have a chance at round 3. I nearly cried tears of joy when I saw that 13.
But I’m not here to just brag on myself (however tempting it may be, because dammit! Wow!!) I’m here to thank my family. I’m here to say how awesome my friends are. I need everyone to know that supporting an artist in their dreams is a worthwhile venture.
I’ve been a writer my whole life, but only recently have I found a modicum of success in my passion. For reasons I won’t go into, because they are no longer relevant in my life, I listened to negative voices. I let them influence me. But no more will I hear them.
This morning, when I awoke to the email that told me I’d advanced to round three, I was somewhat shocked with disbelief. Then it sank in. When I told my partner, his excitement immediately equaled mine. That’s really saying a lot, because he had just woken up, and he is not a morning person! Then I told my kids… and I got hugs and high-fives. And it was followed by, “If you win, will you buy me a new computer?” Which was just too funny.
I’m also participating in NaNoWriMo this year. When I signed up, I thought to myself, “50,000 words in 30 days is a lofty goal. I will probably only get to 10,000, but that’s ok, because it’ll at least make me dedicate some time to writing.” Well, guess what? It’s day 6, and I’m at 12,000 words. My family thinks it’s amazing that I want to write my novel. They give me time. They encourage me. And to tell the truth, it’s not detracted from our family life one bit. Quite the opposite, I’d say.
I’m happier. When I give myself over to my writing process, I feel whole. I feel deeply connected to the words, and my characters, and to humanity. I emerge from an hour of writing feeling accomplished and complete. I buzz with energy and excitement. And I’m able to give more of myself because I’ve given to myself. With my vessel full, I’m able to pour life into my family.
I sleep better. When I write a little every day, I lay down at night with a mind focused on what could happen next. My dreams take me to new lands, and fuel my ideas. My characters come and sit with me and chat while I sleep. They keep away the worries and mundane thoughts that plague my middle-of-the-night insomnia. I wake up energized and excited, knowing that at some point in the day, I’ll sit down and connect with these people who are so incredibly real to me. With better sleep comes a happier momma person. I’m more alert and aware all day long.
I feel more deeply. Life doesn’t seem like such a drone of events. I am able to break up the monotony of routine (*shudder*) with the excitement of what happens next in my fictional worlds. I’m more apt to engage in play time. I laugh easier. I connect more quickly with those around me. I smile at strangers and say hello. The world becomes just a bit brighter.
I’ve jumped off this cliff to follow a passion that’s been burning inside me for 30 years. For the first time, with the support of my family and friends, I’ve sprouted wings and hit thermals that are carrying me upward. I know there will be bumps and bruises and failures on this path, but I no longer fear them. It’s my time, and I’m ready.