In 2009, I entered this lil competition, http://www.wordsandmusic.org/2013%20Guidelines.html in three categories: novel, short story, and work in progress novel. I actually made it to the semi-finalist round, through the second round, and got my name on their website, but that was the extent of it. Hey, I'll take it, since I made it that far with all three submissions! I was browsing their website recently, not really sure what I was thinking because I don't have a fiction piece even remotely close to being ready to submit, but I thought, what the heck, right?
I see that this year, the competition has a new category: narrative non-fiction.
Let me give you a bit of back story.
In late 2009, my stepmother passed away, after a two year battle with breast cancer. Billie and my father had been married eight years. My mother passed away back in 2000. Suicide. For my graduate school program thesis, I wrote a fiction novel on my take with her death, mixing in the Cherokee heritage from my father's side. This is the novel I ended up spending a few years on and off editing and rewriting, which ended up submitted to the WFWW competition in 2009.
After Billie's passing, my father asked me to write a book about him and his marriage to my two mothers. Little did he know, I had already begun work on something of that nature. Well, if you read my B post, then you know that life happened, turned crappy for a while, and okay, I dropped the proverbial ball on many of my writing projects. However, in the last year, I picked this manuscript back up, purchased books on memoir writing, took a few free seminars on non-fiction writing and publishing, and have been working (sometimes not so) feverishly on trying to finish it.
Fast forward to today. I had been looking for a final push that I needed to finish the darn thing. My forte is not narrative non-fiction mind you, while I do have a somewhat small background in journalism and such. Not to mention, this has been an emotionally difficult task, writing this book, because it's sooooo close to home. The book has become a collaboration of sorts between my father's experiences and my own; his life, his life with my two mothers, our families, and my take on losing two mothers. I know he's had an idea of what it would end up being like, as did I, but it has taken on a life of its own, and while it is in the editing stage now, I have struggled with my demons, other peoples' demons, and have tried to regain control over it. So the push I needed to finish it was finding out the WFWW folks were kind enough to add this new category.
The original deadline for the competition was April 1, and I worked so hard in March to try to make it, but I wasn't going to. Just too much editing, rewriting, too many second shift hours at work. At the turn of the new year, I was dedicated to getting back into freelance, but before I even knew I was going to submit my manuscript this year, I had decided to forgo getting back to freelancing so I could spend the spring finishing the book, so I'm left relying solely on my night job to make ends meet right now, but I'm convinced this is all in my cards.
I'm not convinced by the positive outcome of such competitions, to be honest, and had I not placed well enough years ago with my fiction work, I wouldn't even consider it this year, but maybe this is all a sign. I have other reasons for pushing to finish the book, so I'd still be working on it regardless, but this is just that small edge I guess I need to keep on the ball. They extended their deadline to May 1 now, and I'm delighted, yet terrified!
I am one of those people who work well off knowing that my word means something, and I can hold myself totally accountable for my actions; that and I hate, more than anything else, knowing that I might disappoint people or let them down. So, I told my father about the competition. I think he's excited about it. I've told a few others, but now it's in print! So I HAVE to finish it! I HAVE to submit it. It's not about a chance to "win," get money, or prove any points. No.
It's about... knowing that bad things will and can happen to you in life, but no matter the pain and turmoil, there is always a light, however small a sliver it might be, that can guide you if you keep your eyes open long enough to follow.