Well, this is going to be awkward.

You can bet if I could go back in time I would change a few things. I’d have stuck with my piano lessons and learned how to play show tunes and the Blues. I wouldn’t have quit cross country in the seventh grade just because of a few side cramps. And, I would have packed three less bags to carry on the train trip I took from Dallas to New York to Milwaukee after I graduated college.

Nobody likes to sit next to a traveler with too much baggage.

And, that email I wrote today (because my inner editor kept hounding me about a typo)? I would have sent it a week ago.

Here’s the thing about my inner editor: sometimes she’s there to hassle me, sometimes to push me forward, sometimes to keep me from making a mistake. Like announcing a win before the award letters go out.

Last Saturday, Pen Parentis published their long list of winners for the 2011 Writing Fellowship for New Writers. When I saw my name in Second Place, I couldn’t help but squeal: in my house, on Facebook, here. But there was a typo in my name as they printed it, and my inner editor quietly suggested I, you know, check it all out before I run off hooting and hollering.

But, who wants to do that really?

. . .

An anxious writer who can’t get a typo out of her head.

. . .

When I finally sent the email asking if there might be a confirmation in the mail – electronic or otherwise – for posterity, I mentioned the typo as reason why I wanted to just “double check.” The reply I received, very polite, apologized for the typo and more so for the clerical error.

Turns out, I didn’t place second.

. . .

It would be funny, maybe, if it didn’t feel like a sucker punch.

But here’s the thing about writing: sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and sometimes there’s a typo that makes a rejection email feel like a pin prick.

You write anyway.

‘The only reason writers survive rejection is because they love writing so much that they can’t bear the idea of giving it up’ ~ M.J. Rose (as quoted in this excellent blog post on Beyond the Margins).


15 responses to “Well, this is going to be awkward.

  1. I really feel for you here, Christi, but be nice to yourself. This wasn’t on you, you deserve to get excited.

    By the way, excellent line: Nobody likes to sit next to a traveler with too much baggage.

  2. Ugh. I feel your pain too. I consider rejection just a part of earning your writer’s stripes, but this is an especially tough one. Hang in there and keep writing!

  3. I’m so sorry. Try not to get discouraged. I know it’s hard though.

  4. Keep writing, Christi – and thanks for sharing this. Typos – yes, the bane of writers.

    And you know what it feels to be second and when your times comes, you’re ready. *wink* I feel for you – and you’ll get your turn!

  5. My goodness, subject yourself to some extremes, why don’t you! I’m feeling the excitement, the disappointment, and the excrutiation (<– not a word? It should be!) at having to pull back the announcement. Well, it wasn't a typo, you weren't to know, you have a track record that deserves a 2nd place (maybe even a first), and next time, it WILL be yours, so go for it!

  6. *Sigh* I am incredibly sorry, Christi. What Dot wrote was almost exactly what I thought while reading this post.

    Giant hugs from your #1 Kentucky fan.

  7. Quick story about awards. In our former life, my wife and I were partners in a wholesale lumber company specializing in cedar. About five years in, I attended Cedar University–a two week mini course at UBC sponsored by the North American Wholesale Lumber Association. I worked hard, won the top score prize, a trophy and all. I brought back the trophy, so proud. Our partner–ten years older, a seasoned pro–glanced at the trophy and told me we had lost the business of our largest customer in our absence, but that we would be their ‘backup choice’ when they shopped truckload quantities (not as profitable as being the primary weekly source). He quiped, “So I guess that’s like second place. Maybe they’ll give you a trophy for that.” Took me three years to win back their business. It took a lot of day-in, day-out battle, showing them our worthiness through constant effort.

    I still have the trophy, and I’m still proud of it. But I’m more proud of having won back the client and keeping them through the effort of will and willingness to do the day-to-day ‘grunt work.’ Hmmm, sounds kind of like the writing journey, huh? Hang in there! Do the work, and your day will come–whether it’s in the form of a trophy or a publishing contract, or the sincere appreciation of your readers.

  8. I feel for you, Christi. Pat yourself on the back for checking and keep going! (I know you will, as your MJ Rose quote says) I echo everyone else, rejections are the rocks and thorns along the road for every single writer. Every artist, for that matter.

  9. Sorry for the disappointment, Christi. For what it’s worth, your talent implies that a 1st place will be in your not-so-distant future. Now on to the next big thing…

    Best wishes~

  10. You’re STILL #1 in our hearts, Christi.

  11. Christi, I remember so clearly how you began the first post on this–“when you’re fighting self-doubt with both fists lately”–and here is what we can remember (and what I constantly have to remind myself): Nothing from the outside will quell those self-doubts. They only respond to our own internal voices, just as you have done here. I’m absolutely convinced that we fritter away much time and energy (well, I do, anyway 🙂 ) thinking that we need someone else to tell us we are good, we are real writers, we are successful, or successful enough… whatever we need to hear. But we have all the validation in us already. We just need to give it permission to speak.

    As usual, your grace has won the day.

  12. I’m pretty new to your blog and your writing, but Lisa’s comment about your grace winning the day nails it for me.

    Of course this experience has been a bummer, but I’ll bet it will show up in powerful ways in your writing – where the unexpected sliver of change/disappointment/whatever your character feels will leave readers breathless because it feels so real as you present it to us from the inside out.

  13. What a roller coaster of emotions! Know that you are surrounded by fans of your work, that with, or without, the 2nd place title, are cheering your praises on a regular basis. We believe in you. We support you. And we look forward to your next piece of work. Go get ’em, missy!

  14. Thanks, everyone, for your kind comments (and your confidence), and Vaughn for sharing your story. I couldn’t ask for a better group of friends. If this were Facebook, I’d triple like you all. If it were Google, I’d plus, plus, plus 🙂

    Lisa, You’re right in your reminder, too, that happiness (& recognition of our writerly selves) is an inside job. After I wrote this post, I realized that, in the mix of emotion, I forgot one thing (which you hint at in your comment): to separate the story from the writer. The story didn’t place second. This was another lesson in not taking rejection personally.

    So then, on we go, friends. Forward, ho!

  15. Ah, sometimes it takes those moments to make sure we are fully planted in reality. Ugh. But, you know what? You’ve smelled the blood in the water. Now go in for the kill. (Sorry, that was my Shark Week hangover talking.)

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