Ramblings and Ruminations, Writing

Reflections on Rooglewood

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THE VERY LAST ROOGLEWOOD CONTEST is officially over!!!

And I survived that excitement!!  I was literally hyperventilating. shaking and laughing and shrieking from excitement and happiness the night of the 31st as I eagerly watched that amazing group of writers celebrate.  Those writers are such a talented, kind and constructive group – it was a joy to celebrate with them and interact with them  – and AHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!   TWO OF MY FRIENDS WERE FINALISTS AND I AM SO, SO PROUD OF THEM!   I literally started screaming when I saw their names!  I am beside myself with excitement for Tracey and Beth – and for all the finalists and winners!!

 

I didn’t get to compete due to not feeling well and severe writers block, and other bits of life’s left-fielders.

I was very disappointed that I was unable to participate in the Rooglewood contest.  While I had no aspirations of winning, I would have loved to have participated.  But I didn’t!  And it does not impede my infinite enjoyment of watching everyone enjoy those big beautiful victories.

Even though I didn’t participate in the contest, I learned something from Rooglewood . . . 

I have to admit – something a bit strange happened recently.

 

 

This is not easy to say.  Not one bit.

A few weeks before the winners were announced . . . I began to feel . . . just a tiny bit jealous.

WHERE THE HECK DID THAT COME FROM?

For months, I have been dancing with impatience as I waited eagerly to see how the many friends I had in the contest had fared.  I held hands with numerous contestants and expressed my glee in their accomplishment, my hope for their future, and my pride in their journey.  I was fine.  I was content.  But then something nasty, something I didn’t want, snaked through my mind and started to steal my contentment.

 When did this little blaggard called jealousy start to raise his head?  When does any of this ugliness start to bother us?

Easy answer.

When we start comparing.

 

Now, I promise – I wasn’t kidding myself.  Back when I thought that participating in the contest might be a possibility, I was 95 % sure I didn’t have a chance at winning.

But there will be that little cloud at the back of my mind for a while.  What if I had entered?  What if somehow I had won?  And even if I didn’t, what about honorable mentions?  What would the judges have thought of my story?  What if? What if?

That voice needs to be snagged by the neck and packed back into its box as often as it is necessary – because those are questions I’m never going to get answered and they are simply a distraction from the here and now.

Life is full of doubts and question marks.  This isn’t an episode of Star Trek where we get to leap in and out of parallel universes experiencing “what ifs” indefinitely.  This is life—a puzzle that is being put together by a Person higher than us as we stumble through a pattern we can’t see yet.  Our lives will be full of the paths not taken, “what ifs” and unanswered questions.

Tip to you and me:  GET OVER IT.

 

 

Now I know all this, but nevertheless, that smidge of jealousy was threatening to creep into my mind – and I whipped around and stared at it and demanded to know where it had come from.

Comparison.

 

Writing seems so hard now.  Lack of focus, sudden changes, writer’s block, not feeling well, slowness, rejections, balance.  All those things are ever present to a writer, but they’ve been harder in the last few months.

It just seems hard.  And looking at that list of five Rooglewood winners – it looks so very easy.

From where I’m standing, winning Rooglewood looks like the express ticket to success.  In a year or less, five people will be bestselling authors – while I am struggling to get a small magazine to accept a short story.

And there’s the fallacy in my thinking – comparison!

 

Let’s just nip some of those absurd mental weeds in the bud.

 

# 1.  I don’t KNOW that Rooglewood winners have instant success.

Two of my favorite authoresses from the previous collections have not been really active in the blogging world lately.  And understandably!

One of them is working, one is still in school.  They both have lives.  Just because they won Rooglewood doesn’t mean they instantly got released from their daily obligations and reached that Writer’s Nirvana of being able to work as a full time writer.  They don’t have someone bringing them cold drinks while they type without effort.

While Rooglewood winners do have the blessing and benefit of a platform now – they still have the same kind of bumps and turns in life as I do.  They have other priorities and responsibilities and a day job.  Just like I do.

Rooglewood winners are still working through life just like I am.  They still have to actually write – i.e: work.

They won a contest, they didn’t win a magic wand.

 

# 2.  We can’t compare the victories.  A victory is a victory.  For one person it might mean winning Rooglewood.  For me, it meant getting one of my pieces of flash fiction published in Splickety.

It is so easy to start comparing.  Yes, Rooglewood is way bigger than Splickety but I still can’t discount my victory, because it’s MY victory, and it’s my path.  Just like Rooglewood was their victory – their path.

And therein was the lesson.  Those winners of Rooglewood . . . it was their path – not mine.  

 

 

Over the past few years, there have been twenty winners of Rooglewood contest – that was THEIR story, not mine.  And maybe it wasn’t yours.  It doesn’t matter.

For the hundreds of people that didn’t win Rooglewood?  Some of us may need to wait.

OH, THAT NASTY FOUR LETTER WORD – WAIT.

I know!  I don’t like it either – but it’s often the very best thing that can be given to a human being.

Rooglewood has graciously and generously provided feedback for all their entries this year, and I imagine that many of you have already looked at the feedback.  I imagine some entries simply didn’t suit the anthology, while others needed more work on their story.  Others simply need more time to study the craft of writing itself.

One of you may need to wait ten years before you finally get that open door (I studied writing for 15 years before I knew it was time to publish).  Some of you may get your break before 2018 is over.  We don’t know.

I know we all want that break sooner rather than later.  But God often calls His people to wait, and it always, always pays to wait for His timing.

God doesn’t love us any less when we are waiting, and He doesn’t love someone else more by letting them “get ahead of us.”

Every life is a unique tapestry.  We must let the Weaver do the work, and trust Him that the picture will be perfect.  Let’s rejoice in the learning and the opportunity, and remember that maybe this isn’t your time.

It wasn’t mine.

But that’s better for me.  I have a tendency to fall into the habits of a hare, when it’s better for every aspect of my life to cultivate the life of a tortoise.   I want that discipline and consistency – but sometimes I can fall into the discomfiture and discontentment of that deadly trap – comparison.

One thing I think we CAN compare ourselves in is this:

We are all committed and embroiled in this exciting quest called Becoming An Author.  We’re all searching for that beautiful city called Good Writing.

There are many, many winding paths; boggy trails, dark thickets and yes, for some, gilded roads (though remember, even Dorothy’s Yellow Brick Road was not problem free!).

That’s what I’m focusing on.  Not the individual routs – but the destination we share, and the joy of the journey.

 

I think it’s so ironic that a contest featuring Snow White awakened a stirring of jealousy!  How dreadfully apropos.

And that is the lesson in Snow White.  Comparison leads to jealousy.  Something that is supposed to be innocently beautiful is compared to another type of beauty – and trouble follows.

I don’t want to be an Evil Queen gazing into a mirror and comparing myself to someone else.

The Evil Queen’s existence is wrapped up in making sure she is maintaining her superiority.  But she only thinks she is superior (and consequently inferior when Snow White grows up) because she is comparing.

 

 

I wonder how many hours the Evil Queen spent looking into that mirror? Neglecting work, joy and family (Snow White), the Evil Queen is too busy comparing.  Ultimately, she lost everything, even her life, because of her constant comparison.

 

 

I would rather be Snow White, utterly unconscious of comparison – too busy with the people around her and the life she is living to compare.   It is her innocence and obliviousness to comparison that launches Snow on her adventure.

Snow has plenty of her own trials – but she also finds work, family and love.  She refuses to drink the daily toxic brew of comparison and ultimately – the Stepmother’s brew has no effect on her, because Snow has spent more time embracing life and those around her than embracing the smallness of a human heart that looks at nothing but Self.

And those are my Reflections on Rooglewood – even though I didn’t get to participate, it taught me something and I am more excited than ever to walk down the road before me.

This wasn’t the path for me. But like the faithful dwarves of Snow White, I am content to dig daily for the gems I know are waiting to be found, and I am committed to whistling while I work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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20 thoughts on “Reflections on Rooglewood

  1. Forty years ago (how time flies!), I spent four weeks in Haiti attempting to improve the water supply in a small village. I wasn’t successful, but that’s another story. I had never realized before visiting the island how very poor the villagers were. Their houses had dirt floors and were created by sticking poles in the ground, and then weaving smaller branches in and out. Most of them went barefoot, either because they had no shoes, or because they were saving their shoes for traveling by foot. I could go on. But what I noticed was that no one seemed unhappy about their life style, and I think the reason is that they had no electricity, hence, no television, and nothing to remind them continually how much better off people were elsewhere. It isn’t not having things that makes one poor. It is having less, especially much less, than other people. Which supports your comments about the dangers of comparisons. Somewhere I remember something that begins, “Thou shalt not covet…” Yes, indeed.

    1. Wow – that’s an amazing experience. As I’ve tithed to ministries and read about them, I’ve observed the differences in attitudes in many cultures, and reflected on how contented some people seem to be, even in poor conditions, because they are not comparing, and are not even aware there is something to compare their lifestyle TO.

      Comparison is so inherent to human nature, and yet often far more rationalized and excused, I think! We fear far more about “Thou shalt not murder” and other commandments, then “thou shalt not covet!” That commandment can be neglected, or forgotten, it seems!

  2. This is a beautiful post, Allison! You’ve inspired me to try and write a post like this. I love how honest and real it was! I’ve been there with the jealousy thing. As for winning not being like a magic wand, I can attest to that! I’ve been writing for twelve years, I entered previous years and didn’t even score an honorable mention. So I was absolutely shocked to see my name this year. I also felt bad, because so many of my friends entered, and there were so many other more talented writers they could’ve chosen. I didn’t and still don’t feel deserving of it. So I guess winning comes with it’s share of mixed emotions too.
    I plan on sharing the ups and downs of it with everyone, not just the highlights.
    Great Post!

    1. SKYE!! Thank you so much for commenting!! Aww, thank you! <3

      *nods* I've been writing for 15 years, but I haven't put myself out there as much as you have - and I think you should be very proud!!

      Aw yes, and that is true - thank you sharing that, Skye. That makes me want to add an amendment to this blog post - because I have been published in a magazine - and victory can be a mixed bag of emotions.

      I am so, so happy for you, Skye!!! I personally believe that everyone that won was just the right person to win, and that their story had that winning ingredient! I hope you have a blessed and peaceful next few weeks as you revise and move ahead with Rooglewood! Thank you for for sharing your journey!

      Thank you for reading!!

  3. Aww, this was such a cool post, Alli! Myself, I’m super satisfied with my results for the contest (sent me a feedback form that made me so happy!), but there have been a couple moments when I’ve thought, “Gosh darn it, Kell, if you’d just tried a little harder …” 😛

    1. Thank you, Kellyn! <3

      That is awesome!!!!!!! *cheers and throws confetti* I'm so happy that you got to enter and got that that feedback - GREAT JOB! *hugs*

      Haha - oh, yes. I'm well familiar with that feeling! But I try not to let it distract me from moving forward. If I let the "if I had just tried harder" thoughts entangle me, I can't focus on the writing I have now. 🙂

      I can't wait to see what you do with you Snow White story, Kellyn!

  4. BEAUTIFUL post, Allison! I hate to admit I’ve felt the sting of jealousy too, but I absolutely love everything you’ve said here about it. It does us no good to play the comparison game or to think that the timeline of OUR unique journey must somehow match another person’s. And how fitting that all these thoughts sprang from a Snow White contest, as you pointed out. 😉

    I’m just…speechless. This gives me lots to think about, in a very good way! <3 (And I'm confident that your time is coming!!!)

    1. TRACEY! *hugs* Thank you for commenting.

      Aww, thank you, Tracey! <3 Yes, I was embarrassed and uncertain about admitting that twinge of jealousy - but I thought: "We're all human - this is no surprise! I'll just share it."

      Yes, it's so easy to do that, but it as I wrote this post it gave me a lot to think about in how erroneous and damaging that train of thought can be. Haha, yes. I realize how strongly it correlated to Snow White and it made me think about Snow in an entirely different way when I struck upon contentment vrs comparison. I feel now, that Snow's innocence came from a studied and deliberate focus on contentment, and not just complete naivety.

      That makes me so happy, Tracey - I'm still thinking about all this myself and some of those pins are really sticking in my mind.

      Aww, thank you, Tracey - same for you!! For now, I'm content (and committed to remaining content) with my smaller steps and victories and pressing on in being consistent!

      Thank you again for commenting! <3

  5. Wow, what a beautiful, wise, and heartfelt post, Allison! Thank you for so bravely sharing something so personal, vulnerable, and close. We can all relate and benefit, and someone needs to say we’re not along – so thank you! You expressed your thoughts and heart so well.

    My tendency is definitely to compare myself to others, and it’s harmful for me and others – so I always need this reminder. I struggle with what Aslan tells Lucy – I wonder why doesn’t she – whoever she might be – go through anything hard? Why does her story seem easy? Why am I going through what I am? But like you said, each of us has our own path, and God knows what’s best for me. And his plan is for the good even when we can’t see it. It’s better for me to be on my road, and there’s great benefit when I follow and trust God’s will, not mine.

    1. Awww, thank you, Mary!! <3 I really hesitated to post, because I was a little embarrassed and though maybe it was too much, but I'm really glad now I did. Because we're not alone in any of this stuff - we all feel it and fight it. I'm very grateful to think that this post could help someone in some way!

      Yes, yes. "nods" The comparison - because we are the only one living our story - it seems hard. It's like we have blinders on that force us to see only our path before us, and keep us from looking down someone else's path and recognizing that it's just as rocky. I have a better understanding now, I think of Snow White. It's about how there are two kinds of beautiful, they're different both they're both beautiful - and it's when they are compared that one turns ugly. And I think that's what we do, as humans. Because something is different, we assume one of them must be uglier than the other.

      Yes! I know He has a beautiful and perfect plan for you, Mary! As He does for all of us. Yes, yes! His ways are higher than our ways, and I know He has the perfect story mapped out for us. It's so much better to trust.

      1. I know you were, but I’m glad you did too. <3 Yes! Since we all go through it, we need to know we aren't alone.

        So true! Allison, I LOVE the way you find such depth, meaning, truth, and wisdom in fairy tales that nearly all the rest of the world misses!

        Thank you! He does for us both! Amen!

  6. (Your blog doesn’t like when I do long comment so I’m splitting this up. XD)

    Pt. 1

    ALLI. GIRL. OH MY. This is one of my most favorite posts in the history of blog posts just… *clutches heart* WOW WOW WOW WOW!!!! I relate to this soooo much!

    I, too, was screaming and ecstatic over the Rooglewood announcements. Sooo many people I knew made it to the finals and my girl Skye and her amazing story WON and just AAAAAHHHHH!!!! IT WAS THE BEST.

    But I, too, have that twinge of ugly jealousy that likes to show itself now and again. And the comparison game. Ooooh the comparison game! So often do I think, “Why have THEY made it and I haven’t yet?” “Why are they so good at this and this and this and I struggle so hard?” Etc., etc. IT’S BAD. But that one quote by Steve Furtick is something I remind myself ALL. THE. TIME. I’m seeing the perfect, polished pieces of these people and comparing it to my absurdly messy first drafts! Like…no. That’s ridiculous. We ALL have to work hard and we ALL have a different path and THAT’S GOOD.

    1. Pt. 2

      I loooooved your point about us each having our own paths. That resonated with me so deeply. God has a plan for each of us, and we can’t compare and wish someone else’s path was ours. We are set on our paths for a REASON and EVERY path is just as important as the other even if it doesn’t seem like it. God knows what He’s doing!

      I loved all the comparisons you made to Snow White.
      “I would rather be Snow White, utterly unconscious of comparison – too busy with the people around her and the life she is living to compare.” <— THIS. THIS THIS THIS! I want to write this down and hang it on my wall or something! THIS IS SO POWERFUL. We SHOULD be so focused on the path God has laid out for us and the people in our loves that we pay no heed to that ugly Comparison Game.

      Just AWK. ALL OF THIS! I could go on and on but you said it ALL. These are thoughts that have been running through my head for…years. Struggles I've dealt with and have had to fight daily. And you summed it up with such a poignant message. I'm bookmarking this post and coming back to it whenever I feel that hideous stab of jealousy coming back.

      Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for this beautiful post! <333

      1. I’ve kicked my blog thoroughly on your behalf – NAUGHTY BLOG, ugh. I wish I knew why it did that – sorry!

        Awww, Christine. *happy smile, holds heart* You are just too sweet, you are a sweet pie!

        I KNOW – I nearly lost it entirely that night. I was getting so loud and so excited I had to move down to our basement. 😀 #flailing

        Yes, I know what you mean – and yes that pin was SO good, and so true. It’s silly for me to think that they don’t go through the same difficult, messy process that I have, because they do!!

        Thank you – yes! I think that’s the key – it’s what is in Snow White. It’s two DIFFERENT KINDs of beautiful – and it’s only when they are compared, that the human nature has to assume that one of them must be uglier than the other. All of our paths are different and each one is perfect for us and beautiful because He designed it!

        Awww, Christine, girl!! *heart is bursting* This comment absolutely made my day and I am so glad and gratified that this post could have helped you in some way! *hugs* Thank you, thank YOU for your beautiful comment! <3

  7. Wow, terrific post, Allison! And I SO RELATE. I give in to comparison and jealousy so often, I’m afraid. I was bummed when I found out that this was the last Rooglewood contest, because I was thinking it’d be fun to try a different one! Ah, well. I guess it was not to be. 😉 Still, yay for all the winners and finalists and just all the PARTICIPANTS! Round of applause for everyone who submitted!! It’s so brave to do that.

    Seriously, this post is fantastic and it’s really nice to know that someone else relates! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    1. Thank you, Olivia!! Aww, yes – I was really hoping there would be another contest – but… #nope But there will always be new opportunities!!

      Thank YOU for reading, Olivia! Aw, thank you – I hope to see you again here! 🙂 <3

  8. “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I need to print that up and plaster it in every room of my house. For sure, I’m adding it to one of my Pinterest boards.

    I think one of the hardest things with an anthology like “Five Poisoned Apples” is knowing that the best stories didn’t always win. For each anthology, the stories that fit together as a cohesive whole in some way that pleased the chief editor are the ones that won. That means that “winner” here does not equal “best.” That’s hard for me to wrap my head around — it has been for all of these contests. Shouldn’t “best” equal “winner” for a contest? Not necessarily. I happen to know that there were some staggeringly good stories that Did Not Win this contest — I know because I was one of the judges. I picked 5 amazing finalist stories. They couldn’t all win. They didn’t all win. Those that did win are going to get changed and improved before publication, maybe changed in minor ways, maybe in major ones. Like you said, that’s their path now, not mine. If I take my eyes off my path to wishfully watch theirs, I’m going to stumble.

    1. Hi Rachel! Thank you for commenting.

      For sure, I’m adding a lot of the pins here to my boards.

      *nods* I actually realized that a year or so ago. I was a judge for a small writing contest, and because we were using a points system, it’s astonishing sometimes how things average out – and you didn’t always get the winning results that I might have expected. All judging (unless it’s something as cut and dry as speed vrs finishing line) is extreme subjective. Plus the chief editor already had something specific in mind, and plus the editors were looking for a cohesive whole (an anthology). As my sister has pointed out with music competitions. “It’s not necessarily that you didn’t win – it’s that you weren’t picked.” 🙂

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