Today, I want to write a little post for all of the Five Glass Slippers participants, both those who ended up with stories in the collection and those who did not. Just a few thoughts and reflections, hopefully for your encouragement.
Announcing the winners of this contest was, for me, tremendously exciting . . . and also rather sad. You see, I am a novelist. Which means I have an active imagination and a (possibly overly-developed) sense of empathy. I've also been in both the winning and the losing position of the publishing life.
Which means I could easily feel the emotion of those who saw their names listed that day . . . and I could just as easily feel the disappointment and even depression of those who did not.
It's so hard to write a story, to love a story, to put your whole heart into a story. And it's even harder to send it out for strange eyes to look over. And it's hardest of all to have decisions come back that aren't what you'd hoped for. That rejection letter. That list excluding your name. That award with some other story's title listed underneath it. It's easy to start feeling as though the problem is you. You, as the storyteller, aren't good enough.
But let me remind you, gentle reader, that writing a story is not about winning and losing. It's about writing a story. It's about love of those characters, love of those themes. It's about vulnerability and courage. It's about enjoyment of the language and the magic of expressing sights, sounds, smells, tastes, sensations that exist purely in your reader's mind.
Remember--storytelling is very different from publishing. Publishing is a business. It's practical, unemotional, based on concrete numbers and a dash of instinct. It's about risk and investment.
Believe me, I see both sides of the equation. I've been on both sides of the equation. I've had work rejected by publishing houses because they felt it was too much of a risk for the market. I've also had work accepted because it struck a particular publisher as worth the risk. I've won awards because judges thought my story breathtakingly beautiful. I've lost awards because judges thought my story completely stank. (Same story! Seriously. And those judges who hated it posted nasty reviews all over the Internets expressing their hatred, which is beyond embarrassing! LOL.)
So, dear writers, believe me when I say I understand your joy at success and your disappointment at loss. And I felt invested in each writer who sent me a story. I felt a kinship. I know the courage it took for each and every one of you to put your heart on the line and submit a story, hoping to see it succeed, fearing it would not.
Remember this--you wrote a beautiful story. You wrote from your heart and to the best of your ability. That is a success! It may not have been a "winner," and it may not have been right for this particular publishing opportunity. But you wrote it.
So I want to make these little statements about some of the stories that didn't win . . .
There were two stories that made me cry. And neither of them made it into the collection.
There was one story that utterly grabbed me by the eyeballs and fastened me to the screen so that I couldn't look away until I saw how it turned out. And it didn't make it into the collection.
There was one story that I read so quickly and kept trying to scroll down to find more because I didn't want it to be over. And it didn't make it into the collection.
There were five stories that had me laughing so hard my sides hurt. And they didn't make it into the collection.
There were three stories that took my breath away with their three very different presentations of magic, demonstrating creativity I had never before seen . And they didn't make it into the collection.
There were four stories that felt so authentic to the time period presented, I could have believed the authors lived and walked in those times. And they didn't make it into the collection.
There were four stories of such unique genres, I could hardly get over the authors' cleverness at fitting them into the Cinderella storyline. And they didn't make it into the collection.
There was one story that I and two of the other readers would (if pressed) possibly have named our very favorite of the whole contest. And it did not make it into the collection.
There were thirteen stories that I tried so hard to fit into a collection meant for five, shuffling around to find the perfect combination. But no matter what I did, eight of those stories could not fit, so they didn't make it into the collection.
All that to say, dear writers, there were only five winners. But that did not mean that the rest of you did not succeed! You wrote wonderful stories. You wrote beautiful, hilarious, powerful, fascinating stories that ultimately reflect the beautiful, hilarious, powerful, fascinating people you are. I felt as though I got to know a little bit of your hearts as I read your work, and I thank you for that opportunity.
Keep writing! Keep supporting and encouraging one another. Keep loving those tales and those characters, enjoying the gift that is your personal creativity. And in this way you will be a winner. A conqueror of worlds.