A few months ago, I decided to enter a writing contest. It was my first ever. At the time, I was unsure which of my writings to enter, but I knew I wanted it to be one of the blog entries I had written since starting this public blog in February. So, I put out a “feeler” on Facebook. I got a lot of replies (thank you if you were one of them!), and it ended up being a resounding vote for an entry I wrote entitled “Scars.” (See link below. I’ll post links to each of the blogs I mention at the end of this article if you’d like to check them out.)
Now, I like “Scars,” too. It’s personal. It’s about overcoming the bad times and coming out victorious in the end. What’s not to like about that concept, right? It’s one of those “feel-good” pieces that I like to write sometimes. I hope they help others, and sometimes I even go back and read them to help myself too. I think those kinds of writings are important. A vast majority of people could probably relate, so I thought I might have a good chance of appealing to what I assumed were probably “scarred” judges overseeing the contest.
So, “Scars” it was.
I had it all printed out and ready to send in to the contest. Even had it in the envelope and sealed. Very first writing contest, here I come.
And then, at the last minute, I did what I’m best known for in my life.
I changed my mind.
Just before mailing it out, I made what I assumed would end up being a bad judgment call on my part. I pulled “Scars” out of the envelope, and I replaced it with “Fully Dressed.”
“Fully Dressed” is something I struggled with writing. In it, I basically shine a spotlight on my insecurities. One insecurity in particular. And do you have any idea how hard that is to do? I mean, it’s hard to admit your insecurities even to yourself, but to broadcast them to the public?? I’m always nervous just before I hit the little “Publish” button on my blog page, but I remember that one vividly. It was a special kind of nervous. My hands were shaking and I felt like I was going to be sick.
Now, reading it, you might not see all of that. You might not think it’s all that big of a deal at all. But trust me, to me it was. I was verbalizing something that I don’t like to let show. I was admitting a fault in myself. Admitting that I let something get to me. Really get to me. And through the writing, I managed to process those feelings, and come to something that resembled a conclusion. The thoughts I had about the issue flowed through my fingers in a way that I didn’t even know they could. Suddenly, as I wrote, I started to stand up to myself. I defended myself, to myself.
And that felt good.
Remembering all those emotions that flowed through me as I wrote and posted that entry, I decided to take a deep breath and send my writing even further out in the world. I entered it into the contest, hoping that maybe someone somewhere might see herself in my writing and know that she isn’t the only one who has ever felt that way. Would it win? Eh, probably not. But the courage it took to send it was gratification enough.
So. Fast forward to yesterday.
I got home last night and checked my mail. Inside was an envelope from the writing committee overseeing the contest.
Congratulations! I am pleased to inform you that your entry entitled “Fully Dressed” in the Creative Writing Contest of the 2013 Wytheville Chautauqua Festival has won First Place in the Adult Essay category…”
Wow. Just wow.
It went on to give specifics about the date and time of the awards ceremony and explained that I am to read the entry in front of all who attend(Yikes!), and asked me to provide a brief biography about who I am and why I like to write.
Why I like to write? Well, that’s easy.
This is why.
Not because I get an award. Not because I get recognition. Not because I get to get in front of a room full of people and read my winning piece out loud. (Oh no, definitely not because of that – just the thought terrifies me!) No, it’s not for any of those reasons.
It’s because someone somewhere understood.
Someone gets it.
Someone gets me.
“Writing is painting your deepest thoughts, fears, insecurities, sadness, happiness, and everything else in between, onto a canvas of words – and then, turning it around to face the world, hoping someone sees that canvas as a mirror.”
– Melissa Caudill
Referenced Blog Links