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~ Full-time Daughter ~

I’ve been waiting for an e-mail. For nine weeks.

I entered a writing contest in a popular women’s magazine, and the description for the contest was this: We want to read your well-crafted, deeply personal stories about love, loss, friendship, marriage, dating or family. These true-life essays should be creative, compelling and soul-baringly honest. Submissions should be between 1500-2000 words and previously unpublished (in print or online).

So here I am, 47, freshly married, dad recovering from a stroke, lots of stuff to write about. I wrote a well-crafted, deeply personal, creative, compelling and soul-baringly honest true-life essay, sent it in, and received an e-mail saying that judging would take place at the beginning of September, but only winners would be notified. Hmm… not crazy about that. Considering my time and soul-baringly honest effort, and the fact that most submissions will likely be from the magazine’s own subscribers, I think even a form letter of thanks but no thanks is warranted. Having worked in magazine publishing before, I know the lead-time can be upwards of several months, but with contests, I have no idea how long it might take to choose two winning stories, contact the writers and publish. So suddenly, an “Oh this sounds like fun,” story-writing thing, turns into an anxious waiting-for-an-e-mail-I’m-starting-to-feel-increasingly-bitter-about-this-bullshit-contest situation.

I sent the magazine a reply e-mail about a month ago, asking when they might choose a winner. Nothing. I sent another e-mail directly from their website asking when they might choose a winner. Nothing. Boy, they really don’t want to engage with losers/non-winners.

Here it is: I want to win this fucking contest! I want the editors to read my story, be entertained, moved, shed a tear and most of all, I want the editors to think my story is worthy enough to publish in their magazine. I want this to happen like you have no idea. I need this to happen. Because despite feeling over-the-top happy in my personal life, I’ve been feeling otherwise stuck in my career lately. Partly because I’m, yet again, re-evaluating contemporary dance and my place in it, and partly because the amount of time I spend with dad, is time away from my career.

My main gig since dad’s stroke is managing his life: physiotherapy twice a week; doctor’s appointments, consultations, check-ups; following up on doctor’s appointments, consultations and check-ups; phone conversations; music therapy bi-weekly; booking Wheeltrans, waiting on hold for Wheeltrans, waiting for the late Wheeltrans bus; it all takes a lot of time. Dad’s wife, my sister and I each have our roles, and this one is mine. Though most of these things would usually be overseen by a spouse, dad’s wife simply can’t handle this kind of stuff. I can. When I talk with some of my girlfriends, they speak of similar challenges trying to balance kids, partner and career. Instead of being a full-time mom, I’ve become a full-time daughter.

My life is very full. I love my husband, I have good friends, and nothing’s better than when dad’s doing well. But much of my identity has been shaped by what I do, and when that takes a hit, I sort of lose track of who I am anymore. I’ve built a career around being a support system for other people, their artistic vision, their neuroses. My writing is just mine and this blog is mine, and an e-mail from a magazine choosing me, my story, my words, would be so sweet and validating right now.

Stay tuned for the story that didn’t win…

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2 responses »

  1. You go girl, yell that shit from the tree tops! And thanks from one of the people (with all his neuroses) that you supported for so long. Nice to hear your voice, it’s been a while. ox

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