Friday, February 10, 2006

"No wins" changes

I started off the year by publicly complaining about not having won anything -- not a Pushcart, not nothing -- and wondering why it felt so bad, even though I don't highly think literary contest wins are the be-all-end-all of achievement.

Lo and behold, my near-stoicism is put to the test by the news that came in the email today. My short story "Fog: Launch Scrubbed" placed sixth in the annual Writer's Digest short story competition.

And yes, I was jumping around my office and wondering who to call first. I'm human. Next, I was wondering when and how I should email my agent about it. Should I drop it in an otherwise casual "just writing to say hi" kind of email, or subject her to the jumping-up-and-down kind.

I gratisfied my immediate share-desire by posting an announcement on a poetry board I frequent and poetry listserv I belong to.

Then I asked myself, "Exactly what does this mean?" Calmer now, I re-read the email and remembered that the story will be published only on the Writer's Digest web site, not in the print mag. Does this mean I should expect book editors to come knocking? Should I list in my bio from now on (when sending out prose, of course). Should I telephone, rather than email my agent -- since now the manuscript from which the story is excerpted is obviously a lot more valuable.

As the afternoon deepened into evening, and I spoke to the editor at WD, I calmed further and realized that what it means is: it's nice. It's great to have your work appreciated.

And that's all I need to think about. It's the same as it was before the email: it's all about the work. And getting it somewhere out there. The rest is up to the reader.