Last month, I posted a much-overdue writing update about being published in Aerial. In continuing that trend, here’s another update that is also long overdue.
Last year, I placed second in the Kay Snow Writing Contest in the category for graduate-level students. I’d previously placed third in Kay Snow nonfiction back in 2013 for an essay. This was the first time I entered since. You do have to wait a couple years to be eligible again (I think two or three) and I gave it six.
The piece I entered was a memoir chapter called “Eclipses of Jupiter” (previously called “Constant Eclipse” on here) a flashback chapter in Moonchild, the memoir project I’m working on (which you can read about in this sketch, and on my Memoir page, and see lots of posts about here).
It was also the chapter I read, so long ago, at the Bowery Poetry Club in NYC as part of The Best Memoirists’ Pageant Ever in 2007, which I apparently never posted about back in the day, though I was sure I had (couldn’t find anything in my drafts either). The picture on my bio page comes from that event.
One of these days, I’d love to get published AND paid for a piece of writing. It’s always been one or the other, never both. This was a cash prize, of $100. Plus a free day at the Willamette Writers conference.
I had plans for that. The timing was perfect for the conference last summer. It fell towards the end of an Enrichment Week at medical school, meaning we had to sign up for activities but most of the week was totally open. Meaning that I could go. Meaning that my writing life and my medical student life were brilliantly coalescing for the second time that year. Back in March, the yearly AWP conference had been here, in Portland, on my bus line, perfectly overlapped with my Spring Break. It was all so charmed.
I was going to go to the conference on the Friday for free, and I was going to have an award winner tag on my name tag, like all the winners would, and I was going to accept my check at the dinner with the keynote address and the awards ceremony. And I was going to network the fuck out of that one free day and dinner.
Years ago, also back in 2007, I’d entered a bunch of pieces in the Pacific Northwest Writers Association contest in different categories. I hadn’t won anything, but when I went to the conference that year, so many people who’d read for the conference recognized me, because in the nonfiction I’d submitted I’d written about albinism. So many people came up to me and told me how compelled they’d been by my entries, how they’d been so close to being chosen as winners. It felt great, and I wrote about that weekend in my first post from my old blogspot blog, and I hoped something similar might happen again this time around.
See, I’d won in the graduate student category, but I’d entered in another category I wished I’d won more: screenwriting. I’d entered Sweet Acid and Live Through This. You can read outlines of both on my TV/Screenwriting page. You can read a recent post about Live Through This here, and read the roller-coaster ride that was writing Sweet Acid in Part 1: The High, Part 2: Coming Down and Part 3: Return to Normalcy.
Neither Live Through This or Sweet Acid had placed in the contest, but the platform for submitting them was Coverfly, and on there, I could see where each was at, ratings-wise. Live Through This was at 81%, nothing too impressive. Sweet Acid, though, was at 94%. That had to be pretty close to placing.
And that screenplay had a main character (essentially a cooler version of me) with albinism. I was sure anyone who read it who was at the conference would immediately recognize me as the author of that screenplay, and I felt pretty confident that even though it hadn’t won, no one who’d read it would forget a blind, albino, pre-med drug dealer main character, or the screenplay that was like a female, disabled take on Breaking Bad, but as a rom-com. Yeah no. Sometimes the looking different works for me, and I was going to make it fucking work for me at this conference.
But this story is so totally anticlimactic, and perhaps my picturing of it was a bit delusional. I’ll never know, because I never went to the conference.
When that Enrichment Week rolled around, I was so wiped out from med school that I barely had it in me to get off the couch and go to the enrichment activities I’d signed up for. I had to go to those–there were big consequences for no-showing–but aside from that, I was in too desperate a need to recharge to be able to muster the energy to even go to the conference, never mind network the fuck out of it.
Plus, I was held back, as always, about what the ever loving F to do or say about my name. I’d won the award under my real name, and still had this site under something impossible to spell, so I was worried how would I actually network without being so confusing, in a way that anyone I networked with could find me later or look me up.
That reminds me, I eventually need to get business cards, or something, with this name. For, you know, future events I do attend.
And not going ended up being probably for the best, because my neighbor was going nuts that week, violently nuts, directed at me (and as a somewhat tie-in to the whole Breaking Bad theme, I think he may have been doing meth) and that Sunday morning, like 36 hours after I was supposed to be at that awards dinner, I basically had to flee my apartment, and spent the next two weeks sleeping on random friends’ couches, moving every couple days, finding a new place, coordinating the move, all while starting a new med school block that was one of the heaviest and had so many anatomy tests.
Yeah, I ended up needing every ounce of strength and rejuvenation I got from barely getting off the couch in the days before all that.
Apparently I can’t write a single post without going on some real tangents. But anyway, yeah! I won second place in this thing! It was cool, and so was getting the check in the mail awhile later. Always feels good to get some recognition for my work.
And who knows, maybe next year, though I’ll still be ineligible to enter the contest again, if we have such things in person, maybe I’ll go.