Tuesday, January 20, 2009

No Go? Oh, Good!


I found out today my story “Vanilla” didn’t make the cut for the latest Writer’s Digest Your Story contest.

A bit of backstory: not making the Your Story cut used to make me crazy. I’d read the finalists and bitch and moan. I’d boil over every trite phrasing the finalists got away with. I’d fume over every cheap ploy. It wasn’t fair! I’d labored over my entry. Couldn’t they see my genius, for God's sake??????

A year later, I couldn’t care less.

I’m actually rather relieved that my story wasn’t selected. This time, I’d felt my hands were tied by the 750 word limit. Vanilla is a story with a gigantic heart. But it was stifled by a restrictive word limit. Now, the sky’s the limit.

But there’s more than that to my change of heart.

Fact One: All I really want is a good story. And Vanilla could be very good. Had it made the cut, it would have been as half-developed adolescent. Now that the gloves are off, I can bring it to adulthood.

Fact Two: The whole story was born from the Your Story prompt. The story never would have come to life without it. A good prompt is like a gift from the writing gods. So, I didn’t win in the traditional sense, but really, I won.

Fact Three: Past losses have led to bigger, better wins. Burning Black was a Your Story reject from last year. I sold it to Every Day Fiction and it made their annual anthology. Now a copy of that anthology is sitting in a coffeehouse gathering me more readers (I hope) The ante is upped when you consider that even if Burning Black had been picked as a finalist in Your Story, it would have been put out anonymously until a final winner was selected. If it didn’t win, no one would ever know it was my story. And anonymity doesn’t net new readers.

How many times our losses turn out to be wins.

So what’s your story? When did you lose, then win? Give a holler. I like a good Cinderella story.

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