Last year, I entered a contest at Storymakers in Utah. The contest receives hundreds of entries but still provides feedback from a member of the esteemed Storymakers guild for the bargain price of $5. I was desperate for high-level feedback, so I tossed my $5 across the Internet and entered the contest. I skipped the awards luncheon because I assumed I wouldn't miss anything.
And then I WON.
It was a shock and the first real validation I'd had as a writer. But I missed my moment. Maybe it was funny (okay, it was a little funny).
Fast forward a year. I'm in that banquet room with another entry, convinced I'd at least place because fate owed me a do-over....and then I didn't.
I'd failed. I was nothing but a one-hit wonder. I couldn't replicate my success, so my success meant nothing.
I was an impostor.
My ego limped through the day. By Ally Condie's inspirational talk about art and creativity, the divide between what I hadn't accomplished while so many others had grew wider and wider until I needed to escape or despair.
As I left the ballroom, I ran into a Facebook acquaintance of mine, Nikki Trionfo, whose debut novel is featured on this site. (It's amazing. Check it out.)
"How are you?" Nikki asked.
My rant summarizes as my career is in the toilet before it's even begun.
Then everything went gloriously awry. Nikki blew the whistle on a train of thought so wonderful that I couldn't resist hopping aboard. We decided to win the #stealthyselfie contest - or at least make a good try for it. We laughed so hard as we staged the shot that workers at the convention center came to check on us.
James Dashner thought my selfie was genius. And on a bad day, that can mean an awful lot.
I wasn't in the room when it was announced - which, since that's happened TWICE in two years was as amusing to everyone as the selfie itself. And that photo and my absence and my willingness to laugh at both brought me a whole new Storymakers, one that had nothing to do with whether or not I'm a good writer. I focused on the friends and the networks and let my writing career slide away for a day. I needed a little fun and a lot of fangirling. I indulged shamelessly in both because what is art if not license for a life fully lived.
No run along and buy SHATTER. Nikki deserves all the good things in life.