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 Submissions should be between 1500-2000 words and previously unpublished (in print or online).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…