Journal Entry, March 5

I tap the Like icon on the Facebook post announcing that the final round of the essay contest I entered last month has begun. My stomach lurches as I consider that mine could be one of the lucky handful still remaining that the judge will read and ponder over. To whom will she award first place? Who will receive an honorable mention? Mine maybe?

Or mine may be in the not-this-one-pile with the hundreds of anonymous others not selected for this round. I have reread it countless times since submitting it. Depending on the day and my mood, I love it or hate it. I stand a chance to win, I tell myself some days. And other days, I question why I submitted that particular essay and not another.

My writing and submitting process was another contest unto its own and I was the judge. A harsh one at that. I narrowed the field to three possibilities. I sought feedback from fellow writers, family, and friends. I considered their comments and revised here and there. Then the day came to hit the submit button, and two of my essays landed in the not-this-one-file on my computer while one took flight into cyberspace on the wings of a $15 entry fee.

What would it be like to receive that call telling me I won, that my craftily compiled words had garnered top praise? I have played that scenario over in my head and each time I am thrilled beyond belief. I think of the string of people I will notify of my supremely grand news. I dream about how a win would boost my writing career exponentially. I am dazed and amazed.

And then I land back on earth and remember that my entry may not even be in the final wave.

So on this side of that news, I remind myself that in many ways, I have won anyway. Because of the contest, I have invested more into my passion. I have written more than I have in years. I enrolled in a writing class where I’ve bonded with other writers and made connections for places to submit my work that I may not have otherwise known about. I’ve channeled thoughts that ran loose in my mind into stories on paper with wide margins that hold a beginning and end. I’ve read the work of others who inspire me to live life to the fullest and to keep writing, no matter what.

On this side of the news, I am happy that I took the leap and submitted an essay to the contest…

Journal Entry, March 9

…and today, the other side of the news. My eyes water and my stomach tightens as I read the email announcing the winners: “Lisa…unfortunately, your essay was not chosen.”

A thought scuttles between my ears suggesting that I give up my writerly aspirations.  No, you will not, a still, small voice whispers, reminding me to read what my levelheaded Past Me wrote for my disheartened Present Me on March 5.

So I do, and I am dazed and amazed that she had the foresight to provide me with such hindsight.

And she’s right, for I will continue to write, on this side of accepting a loss and on the other side of not giving up.

Thank you, me.