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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?
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.
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.