I’m not big on learning lessons, but on occasion I have, grudgingly, done it. For example, I know not to touch a hot stove. Granted, I still do it all the time, so maybe that lesson didn’t really stick. Hmmm, oh, don’t run with scissors…ok, the other day at work I was hacking open a box with box cutters. The phone rang, I ran across the office with the box cutter to get it. Same thing? I’ll wait for the judges ruling.
Sheesh, I must have learned ONE lesson on this journey of my life….OH! DON’T TAKE CANDY FROM STRANGERS! Truth be told, no stranger has ever offered me candy. But, if I’m being totally honest and knowing the candy fiend that I am, I’d probably take candy from a black clad, ski mask wearing stranger. If it was Sour Skittles, I’d jump in the back of his windowless van to get them.
For the sake of argument, let’s just assume at some point, I’ve learned a dang lesson.
“Where is this meandering post going?” you scream in unison!
Let’s go back shall we.
I was born.
ok, not that far back. A couple of months ago, I excitedly entered a writing contest. For this contest they give each group three writing prompts – Genre/Subject/Character. You’re separated into many groups and each group has different prompts. There are three rounds. In round one you have eight days to write a short story with those prompts. Sounds fun, right?
Yeah, I thought so, too.
For two months, I studied numerous past entries, I randomly picked prompts from previous years and did practice exercises. And, I waited.
From my research of past contests, I really only came to one conclusion, I didn’t want to get Political Satire as my genre. Suspense, Comedy, Ghost Story even Historical Fiction sounded fun. Just not Political Satire! All I know about Political Satire is I love Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. But, writing it? No way, anything but that!
Finally, last Friday night, the prompts were set to be emailed to us. I sat waiting patiently – hitting refresh every two seconds.
Refresh. Refresh. Refresh.
I anxiously opened my email. Closed my eyes tightly and then sloooowly opened them…
POLITICAL FRIGGIN’ SATIRE!! (you saw this coming, didn’t you?)
I vigorously rubbed my eyes, shook my head like a wet dog and looked again… Still POLITICAL FRIGGIN‘ SATIRE!!
Let me veer off course for a second here. For as long as I’ve known me, I’ve had this Super Power. No, not X-ray vision, don’t worry I can’t see your business unless you show it to me! No, my Super Power is evil and only harms me.
Anytime, I don’t want something to happen, like really, REALLY don’t want it to happen – I will it into happening.
“Please don’t let me slip on that patch of ice in front of all those people…..WHOAAAAA SPLAT!!
I call this Super Power ‘Reverse Visualization’. I visualize what I don’t want to happen and it does – it ALWAYS does! Yes, I’ve visualized what I want to happen, too. Same result. Doesn’t matter.
So, I should have known I would get Political Satire. Over 1,400 entrants. Close to 50 separate groups – many groups getting the same genre. ONE group and ONE group only – 40 people – got Political Satire. I, of course, was in THAT group.
Thank you jacked up Super Power!!
From that moment forward, this whole week, I’ve cursed the concept of ‘Writing Competitions’. Writing is NOT a contest. Creativity is NOT a competitive sport! It’s ART and shit!
Look, I’m competitive to a fault. I was a high school and college athlete. I’m still competitive! If I’m in the grocery store, heading for the check out line and some 90 year old woman is eyeballing the line I’m heading for — IT’S ON! I will beat her, and when I do, I’ll slam my grapefruit on the counter and do an obnoxious Touchdown-type dance. I like winning!
But, as I wrote and threw away draft, after draft…after draft this week, I learned a lesson.
I LEARNED A LESSON!
Writing (for me) just can’t be forced into the parameters of competition. Lesson learned!
After writing no less than five drafts, and with two days left until the deadline, I went back to my very first draft. I worked it over, under and all around. I bitched and moaned and cursed like a sailor. Last night, I simply could not look at this story one second more. I could not tinker with or edit another line.
I was done. Dunzo! FINI! I submitted it.
Good or bad — honestly, at this point, I have NO idea.
But, a funny thing happened once I received confirmation my submission was received. I started thinking, “Hmmmm, well that was kinda fun!”
I told my husband, the poor guy who has heard me lamenting and whining, non-stop, for a full week, that maybe it was sorta fun afterall.
He palmed my face and said, “GEEZUS, DON’T YOU EVER LEARN!?”
Apparently not…Lessons? I don’t need no stinkin’ lessons!