I’ve spent the last two weeks working on my short story FINGER PAINT. It is my submission for the Pen Parentis New Parent 2012 Fellowship . I haven’t entered many contests because, well I hate to fail and the odds of willing are always minute, but this one struck me. So I decided to go for it. The fellowship guidelines are that an entrant must be a parent to a child ten years or younger, check, and the short story may be of any genre but must be no longer than 1250 words. I had no idea 5 pages could work my brain the way these did. I must have printed out at least 100 pages while editing and working on rewrites. Then when I thought I liked it I realized I edited my voice out, so I went back to my original draft and reworked that. I am happy to say FINGER PAINT went in the mail today, two-days prior to the post marked deadline.
My friend and neighbor helped with my submission. I rummaged through my house for hours looking for staples to bind the pages of my story together. No way I was going to risk any pages falling out-of-order, or on the floor, only to be lost in a sea of other submissions and eventually trashed, after all my hard work. But I couldn’t find any. Not even in the back of my junk drawer! Not to worry, I have great neighbors and M came to my rescue.
Being the wonderful woman that she is, M wished me luck and then asked when she could read it. I felt myself momentarily freeze. Read it? I am always surprised and thrilled when anyone reads something I’ve written. But this story is for a fellowship. Isn’t it right to let them read it first? What if my story freaks her out? I don’t want to lose a friend over my vivid and unique imagination.
Wouldn’t you be worried about a new friend reading a story about an amputated finger kept in a pickle jar in the refrigerator next to the mustard? Come on now, who thinks of things like that? Me! I want her to read it, but what if she doesn’t like it? I’ll see the disappointment on her face. Her head will lean ever so slightly to the left and her eyes will glaze over and she’ll say, “Oh, that was good.” But her voice will squeak and what she’ll really be thinking is you worked hard on that POS story? You think that’s good enough to win a FELLOWSHIP for goodness sake! Bless your heart, I think it’s time you stopped working on that book and focused on being a good wife and mother. Okay, she wouldn’t think that, right M?
I think this is every artists dilemma. I want you to like my work, really I do, but I am so afraid you’ll think I suck that I prefer sharing my work when some other stranger I addressed an envelope to but will never meet face to face says, “Yes! We’ll publish that!” before I let you read it. So M. I’ll find out in August if I won or lost the Fellowship. But at least I entered the race. Keep your fingers crossed for me. And I promise to let you read it soon. Just as soon as you’ve had a glass or two of wine ;P