It's been about 24 hours since I got the You-didn't-win call instead of the Are-you-sitting-down call. I certainly didn't want to be writing this particular post, but it is what it is. First off, congratulations to the Quarter 3 winners. I look forward to reading your stories in the anthology next spring. With the rollercoaster of being a finalist now over, I thought I might share some thoughts on the experience.
When I say rollercoaster, I mean it. The past month has been full of serious ups and downs, none more so than the bookend calls to inform me that I was a finalist and the one to inform me that I will not be going to the L.A. workshop in April. There's the agony of waiting. The congratulations from friends and colleagues. The dream I had one night of going online to see that the results had been posted and I was not among them, but I hadn't gotten a call yet one way or the other.
A fellow non-winning finalist said to me yesterday, there's a special pit in the stomach that no one else really understands except those who have gotten the You-didn't-win call. Then there's the argument that, all right, I didn't win but I made finalist. That's an accomplishment in itself. And yes it is. But to get so close and not win is heartbreaking. In the end, the absolute worst submission of the entire quarter -- the person who sent in their grandmother's award-winning cookie recipe -- got the same result that I did.
I'll be honest. At this particular time, I would rather pro-out of the contest than go through all that again. Will that stop me from entering? No. I will keep sending my best stories to Writers of the Future every quarter until I can no longer do so, either from winning or disqualifying myself with too many professional sales. But I dread getting the You're-a-finalist call for a second time. The next time I get an e-mail stating my straight rejection or my honorable mention, I will breathe a sigh of relief.