Tag Archives: essay

Writing Pays Off

So, Friday, June 21, 2013, I received my first-ever award for writing.  I won first place in the essay division of the Chautauqua Creative Writing Festival in Wytheville, Virginia.  Here is a picture of me with the guest speakers at the event, authors Mary Lin Brewer and Rosa Lee Jude.  (They are co-authors for a new historical fiction book series entitled The Legends of Graham Mansion.)  My sweet boyfriend Richard who came along took this picture for us.  I’m shown with the certificate that was presented to me for my “meritorious writing abilities.”  It really says that right there on the certificate.

Meritorious writing abilities.

Awesome.

award

But you know what’s even more awesome?  Here’s the picture I really wanted to take while I was there, but was too chicken and decided to wait for a more tactful setting.  Safe at home.

checkpic

Cha-ching!

Oh yeah, baby.  That’s a check.  A real live check for my writing.  MY WRITING.  A check.  Holy cow!

It’s such an awesome feeling to get a check for doing something that you just love to do for fun.  I think back to the day I wrote the particular entry that won this contest, and I am blown away that that feeling of insecurity that overcame me at the time managed to lead to such an awesome thing.  Isn’t that crazy?

There I was, sitting in the middle of an uncomfortable “woe is me” situation, and then fast forward a few months and I’m holding a check in my hand because of it.  Interesting.

Kind of makes you think a little, doesn’t it?

Who’s to say that whatever crap you’re dealing with right now at this very moment isn’t going to lead to something as awesome as that?  It’s worth considering, wouldn’t you say?

Hang in there.  It all happens for a reason, my friends.

***

“Everything happens for a reason.  That reason causes change.  Sometimes the change hurts.  Sometimes the change is hard.  But in the end, it’s all for the best.”
– Rita Ghatourey

Links if you’re interested:

Entry that won the contest: https://missyspublicjunk.wordpress.com/2013/04/11/fully-dressed/

Info on the Legends of Graham Mansion as referenced above: http://www.legendsofgrahammansion.com/

Writing Scared

writing

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.

“Dear Melissa,

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.

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

Scars:  https://missyspublicjunk.wordpress.com/2013/03/08/scars/

Fully Dressed: https://missyspublicjunk.wordpress.com/2013/04/11/fully-dressed/

I am a Writer

“I firmly believe that doing what you love involves doing what you once loved as a kid. That thing you were good at. That thing you’d sneak away from your chores to do. Your history tells you everything you ever wanted to know about living your dream.
– Catherine Hughes

I have been wanting to do a blog about writing for a while.  (In other words, I’ve wanted to write about writing.) But I didn’t really know where to go with it.  I write about everything that matters to me – my kids, my boyfriend, my family, my running, my acting, etc. – but I’ve never known exactly how to write about writing.  Just seemed like an odd thing to write about.  A little redundant even.  But yet, it nagged at me.  Somehow, I needed to do it.

And then I read a blog by Catherine Hughes that contained the quote above.  (Here’s a link to the blog if you want to check it out.  It’s a good one!)

And finally, I realized where I wanted to go with this.

I am a writer.

Wow.  Just saying that sounds odd.  A writer.  Me?  Really?

Like the quote implies, maybe a small part of you knew who you were and who you were meant to be from the very beginning.  What did you sneak away to do as a kid?  Me?  I wrote.  Really.  I can remember this old trapper keeper (oh yeah, we’re taking it old school now) that I used to have that was filled to the brim with little poems and notes that I would write as a pre-teen.  They started getting pretty good when I got into my teenage years (even if I do say so myself).  Heck, even back as far as when I was pre-school age, I would make my dad and grandma “play school” with me, and my assignments to them (I was the teacher, of course) were always to write stories or essays.  My grandma still has some of these in storage and they are a hoot to read.  I was not a very gracious teacher.  I didn’t see an “A” in the bunch.  There went their dreams of being writers…

Now, granted, I don’t make money being a writer.  It’s not my profession, so to speak.  But does that mean I’m not one?  Nope.  Does that mean I’m not “living my dream” because my paycheck doesn’t come from what I love?  Of course not.

I am a writer.

Yes, I have a “regular” job.  I’m a real estate paralegal.  While real estate may not be my “dream” per se, I’m actually kind of good at it.  It’s what I know, and all I’ve done since college.  Am I ‘selling out’ because I’m not following my dreams to be a writer?  Of course not.  I’m doing what it takes to take care of myself and my kids.  To keep food in our mouths and a roof over our heads.  I’m being a responsible adult.  I’m not going to win any awards for that.  No nobel peace prize officials are going to be knocking on my door to alert me of my candidacy based on my excellent ability to close a loan refinance or cut the crusts off a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  But I don’t need that.  Watching my kids grow up in comfort and become wonderful young adults is all the award I need.

But in the down times, in the quiet times, I sneak off and become me.  I write.

And for the longest time, I kept that somewhat secret.  My childhood trapper keeper eventually turned to a folder, which then turned into a file on the computer, which then morphed into a private blog, and which now has become this public blog you’re reading now.  I’ve always been a writer.  I’m just finally admitting it, and taking that scary leap into exposing my writing for others to see.

writer

No, I’m not gaining fame and fortune with my writing.  But I am indeed living my dream.  And I thank each and every one of you who haven’t run away.

***

“The dream was always running ahead of me.  To catch up, to live for a moment in unison with it, that was the miracle.”
– Anais Nin