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 Earth. I 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.
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!!