Finding the silver lining in small failures
I know some of my other writer friends will feel my pain; this may be boring for the rest of you but still worth a chuckle. In a hilarious somewhat pitiful turn of events, I decided at about 7 p.m. last night that I was going to try and polish up a story I’d written almost 5 years ago and submit it by the 11:59 p.m. deadline to the CBC Creative Non-Fiction contest. I thought I was doing pretty good, given the circumstances, until I glanced up at the clock at precisely 10:59 p.m. when it occurred to me that the deadline was in Eastern time.
And it had just passed.
In another life, this would have crushed me. I would have wailed about wasting my time and so on. But I’ve experienced a paradigm shift in the last few years – and maybe as recently as the past year (and I mean the one that started on January 1, 2019).
I had given myself permission to NOT submit anything to this contest a few weeks ago as there was only one story rolling around in my head and I had decided it was something I wasn’t going to write for more reasons than I can or will list here. But then dammit it occurred to me, last night, that maybe I HAD to write it to get it out of the way for future stories. So, that’s what I committed to do and was happily ensconced in the process until that moment when I realized I had run out of time. I even went to the CBC submit page and tried to send it even though it wasn’t ready. But CBC is tricky and they’d already closed the contest by 11:00 p.m. central time.
I sat and stared at the screen for a few moments and consciously thought about what my reaction would be. I even surprised myself. It was more of a shoulder shrugging “Oh well…” than the ferocious railing against my own ineptitude I may have done in another time and place. At least I had finally broken through many years of starts and stops to have written it. I then put myself out there on the CBC Writes Facebook page, which is a supportive community for writers who are determined to go the distance and submit entries to CBC’s literary contests every year. Because of the unconditional writerly love here, I felt safe posting my debacle. I received a few comments and I’m sure more will appear throughout the day as other members of the community wake up from their 11th hour editing and submission hangover. I’m sharing a couple (with permission).
Chris Bice wrote: “At least you swept out those old story cobwebs and now made room to stack a new story onto that shelf in your mind.”
Another, Marilyn R. Smith Carter shared: “Maybe this story will never leave its home but it helped to cleanse you of whatever hardships were buried in there to move forward.”
Other thoughts running through my head? Gratefulness that I have a large enough body of work that I could dig around and find something to “polish” in a pinch. That has not always been the case. And amazement (mixed again with some gratitude) that I am able to let it go and move on. While writing this post may contradict that, it’s actually part of my process. Free it by writing it down and then move on.
That is all.
Work beckons. Good, meaningful work and another reason I’d decided to pass on the contest in the first place. Later today, I’ll get up from my desk and get outside where this beckons every day. How can I not be okay?