You know how sometimes, every once in a great while, life throws you such a curve that you simply don’t know what to make of it? Do you recall that feeling of expectant suspension, as you simply stand waiting for your emotional brain to catch up to your logical brain, which has just been given this unexpected news? The limbo that you wait within, while all parts of you process the knowledge, seeking flaws or inconsistencies that simply are not there, but that you must go through the process until you can believe this thing?
Are you in great enough suspense yet? (Um, I am.)
The day after I returned from Taos Toolbox, Hollywood called me. Me! Joni Labaqui of the Writers of the Future Contest informed a very stunned me that I’m a second quarter Finalist in the 33rd Writers of the Future contest.
I was very demure, I think. It’s because I couldn’t process the info. I remember saying, “I think I need to sit down.” I remember telling her that I would probably not believe it the next morning, and she laughed. I fuzzily recall going into the living room and telling my husband, who seemed puzzled not to see me shouting for joy. And later, much later, I did cry–for the shock and surprise and the joy of it all combined into these tears that burned my eyes and cleared my head.
And so now, let me shout my joy, my utter delight!: I am a Finalist! Me! Whoo-hoooooo!
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, let me explain a bit here: The Writers of the Future Contest has been running 33 years, and is for “new” writers–those without significant publications to their name. The contest is divided into 4 quarters each year, and each quarter thousands of writers worldwide submit their best work. Of those thousands, only 8 are chosen as Finalists. Do you see the reason for my shock?
But this isn’t the end! In the coming weeks, the 8 will be narrowed to 3 Winners. This repeats in each quarter of the year, and at the year’s end, the 3 Winning Stories from each quarter compete head-to-head as the judges wrangle out the Golden Pen Winner for the year. Each of the Winning Stories will be published in the annual anthology, and perhaps for a lucky one or two other Finalist, there will be a “Published Finalist”–their story pubbed alongside the rest in the anthology.
So, I’ve made incredible, unhoped for progress. But I’m far from the pinnacle, and honestly, I have no expectation of making it further. And yet, just having made it here? It takes my breath away still. And I’ve got to admit, I’m going to be on edge, my breath catching, every time my phone rings until the three are announced.
Cross your fingers for me?