Didn’t Make the Cut

Today was the day I’ve been losing sleep over for the past several weeks.  Ever since CBC Writes sent me that letter, telling me I’d been longlisted for the 2013 Short Story competition I’ve been having all kinds of trouble getting my mind to shut down at night!  First of all, just being over the top about the longlist was enough to keep me all twitching and smiling to myself during the wee hours.  And then my thoughts turned to ideas of winning – and not the cash or the publication opportunities (not that for one second I would eschew those!) but the two week residency at the Banff Centre Leighton Artists’ Colony – Oooooohhhhhh!!!!  Swoon.  So then I night-dreamed about that for a while.  Eventually, after losing all this sleep, I started walking around at work in a daze, unable to focus, can’t process conversation, blurred vision – the whole zombie bit.

Add to this my new addiction to the CBC Short Story blog, on which all the readers were posting their comments!  Every day as soon as my duties were done I’d plunk myself down in front of my laptop and go directly to the blog to read comments and thoughts and opinions.  Multiple times over. Wow!  What I learned is not only about the interesting readers themselves, but the amazing stories that other contestants had written.  Insecurity now crept in with even greater force!  How awesome, though, to be in such grand company!  And when Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair posted his very gracious and generous comments about my story – whoosh!!  Over the moon with me!

Good bye more sleep.  I just hugged myself all night wondering how on earth it came to this fine moment?  How on earth do people with real successes manage their glee?

My friend, Beth Gobeil, whose poetry is published with CBC on a program called The Donovan Show, aptly named after her son whose victory over CF and a double lung transplant has inspired much of her work, has just in the last day or two received news that several more of her poems are going to be published in Transition, a magazine.  She is modest and demure, expressing gratitude and appropriate joy.  I would be singing my ecstacy in bold font, underlined, italicized.  In red.

During a writers’ retreat last fall I was mentored by the fine Kimmy Beach – a wondrous witty woman with the twinkliest eyes ever – who has just recently published her most recent collection of poetry called The Last Temptation of Bond   – her clever and personal twist on all things Bond, James Bond. She has posted a photo of her opening the box full of a stack of books, her books, in which she looks quite well and rested!!  How does she manage to sleep at all???

And in this same time frame, another acquaintance (met at the Sage Hill Writing Experience the summer before last), Ayelet Tsabari, also has been celebrating the publication of her collection of short stories, The Best Place on EarthI would be a wreck in her place, and yet she appears to be surviving this ordeal with grace and energy and bunches of wellness! I have no idea what trickery this is, but I’m telling you this:  if I cannot manage my elation over this wee event, I am certainly in no way prepared for bigger leagues!!

Then, this last week, the last few days before the short list came out, I spent time trying to convince myself to not get all wound up because I was certain I had not made the cut.  CBC had been very considerate about giving notice to me previous to this about when and where I should be directing my attention – sending letters and emails in advance, pointing my eyes to exciting news!  For this, much thanks!!  So, each night before bed I would say to myself, “Now, settle down.  You know they would have sent you a letter or an email tipping you off.  You have received no such thing. Go to sleep. The fun is all over for now.” And for a while this was working quite well – I think for several nights in a row I slept two or three winks.  But all my friends (bless every single heart and soul who has been cheering me on!  You are all wonderful and undeserved!!) kept telling me I should not count myself out of the running – those were some damn fine words Mr. N.J.Sinclair said about you online!!

Yes.  Yes they were and I think I will have them burned into the structural beams of my office for future reference.  However, and I pointed this out repeatedly, all the readers said wonderful things about all the writers they read!! And I told myself this in preparation for today, March 11th.  And then, two days ago after finally, blissfully drifting into sleep, I dreamed a dream:

I was standing beside a table of jurers, two of whom were colleagues (and fine, friendly, supportive folk at that!).  One of them was interrogating me about why I should be awarded anything.  “Look at this?  Have you read this?”  And she read a line the only thing about which I can remember is that it had something to do with a dream.  “What is that supposed to mean?” She looked at me, seeing right into my criminal ways.  “We don’t even know what you’re talking about here!”

I stammered! I didn’t know how to respond!  All lame-in-the-mouth I said, “Uh, is that in there?” because I truly didn’t recognize it.  And she said, “Yes!” and another jurer pulled out my story and found the line, circled it with a red pencil and with a swooping arm, swept my piece off the table.  It flapped to the floor and they moved on to the next story in the long list.

This was not a pleasant dream!! I was not getting any rest at all in spite of my being asleep at last!!  Alas.

And so this morning, I got up early and turned on my computer thinking that I would be the first to see the Shortlist.  I was expecting the list of 32 to be cut down by at least half.  This is my first major literary competition in all my life and being a newbie I had no idea what to expect.  So I thought I’d see a list of maybe ten or twelve stories.  But *sigh* the list wasn’t posted yet.

I brushed my teeth and boiled a few eggs and checked the CBC website again.  Nope.

I showered and dressed and filled my lunch bag and checked again.  Uh-uh.

I drove to work and chatted with a few folks and went to my room to check the website again and… there it was: a list of five.

Five!!

The shortlist is evidently very short. The four runners up and the grand prize winner have their names posted, (a thousand sincere congratulations going out to those finalists!!  Well done!!) though no one knows yet whose name is runner up and whose name is GrandPrizeandhenceArtists’Colony Winner.  So the suspense there is ….. wicked!!

Good lands!!  I’d die a thousand times before March 28th!  I’d never get a wink!  I’d be rolling over and tossing each night, flailing about and getting all tangled in my sheets.

So, congratulations to the ShortList Winners!  Well done!  Be proud!  I wish you peacefulness and contentedness, though I’m sure you are each far better equipped to handle fame and fortune than I!

As for me, I can rest easy.  My part is over.  And tonight….. I sleep!!

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4 thoughts on “Didn’t Make the Cut

  1. Another excellent post! I was hoping you’d win for that much lusted-after Banff retreat, but hey, there are many more stories to be written.

    I was thinking about you the other day and have decided that your journey into writing has been quite inspirational. First you recognized a love of writing in yourself, then you explored it – went to writing workshops, Sage Hill, met other writers, joined a writing group (and offered your home), met more writers, went to more workshops, began learning the process of submitting stories, started a blog, entered a national contest (and got shortlisted!), increased your virtual footprint, etc. You’ve really put your all into this and I must say, your voyage, enthusiasm, intellect in how you progressively improved your skills and ‘writing position’ is really very inspiring! So many people find a passion, but don’t follow it up or don’t give it their all and enjoy the ride. I, personally, am still looking for a passion, but maybe after health. Anyway, this is what I all thought the other day while padding about my house. A big congratulations to you for being an inspirational leader on how to follow a joy.

    • Wow. I’m tired just thinking about all that! Nor had I put it in that light! Thank you! I have the support of lots of people – the writing community is quite a supportive one – everyone cheers everyone on. It’s quite lovely hanging out with people who are as excited for you as you are for them!

      When you say you are looking for a passion I think, “But I’m not that passionate!” I don’t feel passionate. I quite remember looking at other people off doing “inspirational” things wishing I had something I cared about. I think I started pursuing writing because so many people told me to during my MAIS. And then doing that MAIS thing was so intense and all theoretical-academic that I thought I needed something right brained and creative. The first few ‘creative writing’ ventures were quite difficult, actually. But then there’s so much encouragement that I just sort of fell into the community and then maybe got into the current of the thing.

      So maybe what I mean is, I don’t think “passion” is what I thought it was. I was expecting something that would fill my soul and energize me and make me feel like soaring. Nope. If this is passion then it’s most parts curiosity and effort and some parts community and relationships and a few parts talent or fun.

      You just wait – all at once you will find something you just feel like trying and then you’ll try something similar but different and so on and so on until someone says, “Oh! You have such passion!”

  2. AWWWWWWwwwwww. Do you remember those whiny noises I made while waiting at the bus stop in the dead of winter, during University. I am now making those noises for you. You probably enjoy them more, now that they are directed towards you.

    Oh well, it will be one more part of the story that you will need to tell when you become famous.

    • I never really had any appreciation for those whiny sounds. I can’t say that I really enjoy them much now that I hear them coming in my direction. Nope. 😀 However, every step on a journey is another step on the journey! That is just plain true!!

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