Several weeks ago, I submitted a story to the North Carolina Writers’ Network for the Doris Betts Fiction Prize. The winning piece of fiction of up to 6,000 words will be announced in April and will be published next year in North Carolina Literary Review.
Doris Betts was born in 1932 in Statesville, North Carolina. For 30 years, she taught creative writing and English Literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She was an award-winning novelist and writer of short stories. Her subtle writing style was often compared to that of Flannery O’Connor. Ms. Betts died in 2012 at her home in Pittsboro, North Carolina.
The story I submitted in the competition for the Doris Betts Fiction Prize was titled, “Secrets of a Foster Child.” It is the first fiction story I’ve written in first person. I tried to put myself in the skin of a foster child. That wasn’t easy. I was blessed to grow up in a stable, two-parent, loving home. We lived on land that has been in our family since the 1760s. I knew we weren’t ever going to move. I knew where I would go to school the next year, much less the next day. I never once had to wonder if I would have enough to eat or clothes to wear. I knew Mama and Daddy were my forever parents.
Hearing and reading about the various experiences foster children have has helped me to realize how fortunate I am. There are many wonderful foster homes, and I hope my story conveys that. Some foster homes are not so good, and my story touches on that. The overriding theme in the story is the insecurity that foster children have. Nothing in their lives is permanent.
I doubt that “Secrets of a Foster Child” is literary enough to win this august writing competition. I do not expect to win, but it was helpful to write for the contest and go through the mechanics of editing and revising in order to make the piece as good as I could.
No time spent writing is wasted.