It turns out, I'm a wimp. Aside from a harrowing weekend of trying to finish editing a diamond-in-the-very-rough 110,000 word manuscript, all of my spare time in the past month or so has gone into an enthusiastic effort to break into RPG freelancing. In December I submitted what we geeks call a "wondrous item" to RPG Superstar. It was a cool idea: iconic but unlike any other item I've seen in the game. I had friends review it. I tweaked it until I was perfectly happy with it. I triple-checked the formatting. And I managed to get my neat idea across in 200 words or less.
Then I waited in eager anticipation for the Top 32 to be announced. At 2:00, today.
You can guess what happened. My name did not show up. Not even in the alternates.
Granted, there were hundreds of entries, and I know that I was competing with an immense amount of talent. Which is why I'm proud of the fact that I even took a chance on myself and entered the contest. But I was certain I would make it to the next round. Not arrogant. Just certain.
Have you ever seen the movie Gattaca? If you haven't, you should definitely pick it up at your earliest opportunity - it's a fantastic sci-fi movie that grows more relevant every day. But I digress. There's a scene in the movie where the main character, one of the last of his generation to be conceived naturally and thus considered "inferior", is asked how he beat his quality-controlled younger brother in a contest of endurance. By all measures of physiology and genetic expectation, the younger brother should have won. But twice when the brothers swam out in the ocean, as far as they could go, the superior brother called it quits first, and was hauled back safely to dry land by the brother who was supposed to die young of a feeble heart. Sputtering and beaten, he finally asks - how?
The answer: "I never saved anything for the swim back."
I thought about this scene when I realized that I had not braced myself for the possibility of rejection. I threw all of my hope and expectation into this contest. I didn't save any of myself back.
Now I'm paying the price. Although a $1 hot fudge sundae from McDonald's helped dry up the tears. (Yep, I'm that emotional. Call my silly or call me sad, that's the way I am.)
I'm not going to quit. My husband, who I admit may be partial and/or a survivalist, assures me I am creative and someday, somewhere, someone is going to realize that and fall in love with my writing. I hope he's right, because I've realized through this process that I really want this.
I'm reminded of the time I first took a pregnancy test after Jon and I started hoping for a family. I thought it was something that would be great if it happened, but it would also be fine if it didn't - at least for a while. Then the test came up negative. And I learned in that moment that, more than I had ever imagined, I wanted it to come up positive.
In the end, I'm going to be glad about this turn of events because I learned something important about myself. And as surely as Aurelia brightens up my life with her delightful smile and toddler talk, someday I'm going to see one of my adventures (and maybe even a novel?) in print. I'm going to make it back to shore. More important, I'm going to head out to sea again too.