A Week in the Life of a Struggling Writer

I debated over several possible titles for this post, and I settled on “A Week in the Life of a Struggling Writer.” Perhaps other struggling writers will read this and take comfort in reading about how my writing life is going. The content of this post will not be uplifting. Hang in there with me, though, to the last paragraph. After a bit of a pity party, in the end I was able to end on a positive note.

I promised in at least one earlier blog post that I would report on the outcomes of all the writing contests I entered. The last week or so has not been the highlight of my writing endeavors. I thought it was bad enough when I was notified that I had not won two competitions, but yesterday I received word that I had not won or placed in yet a third contest. I promised to report to you, so here goes.

In March, I submitted my short story titled Someone is Trying to Kill Me, in the Gemini Magazine Short Story Contest. My entry did not make the cut.

In June, I entered George Govan, A Gentle Man, in the Northern Colorado Writers’ Personal Essay/Creative Nonfiction Contest. I really thought I had a good chance to secure at least an Honorable Mention for that piece; however, it was not to be.

In July, I wrote a piece about the experiences I had a few years ago when I had the privilege of interviewing Mr. Ira Lee Taylor about his military service during World War II. He was part of the D-Day Invasion of Normandy, the Battle of the Bulge, and other battles in the European Theatre. I presented his memories of the war as a human interest story titled, Telling World War II Stories, and submitted it for the Page Crafter’s Prize in the On the Same Page Book Festival coming up in a couple of weeks in West Jefferson, North Carolina. I was proud of that piece, but I learned yesterday that I did not win or place in that competition.

I have entered nine writing contests in 2015. So far, I have not won or placed in any of them. I am more than a little discouraged today, but I will press on. The only way my writing will improve is through writing, writing, writing. It would have been helpful if I could not gotten some feedback from those nine contests, but I only received constructive criticism on one. It is difficult to learn from one’s mistakes when those missteps are not identified.

From these nine writing contests this year I have learned that I’m not as good a writer as I thought. That is a valuable lesson, lest I start thinking too highly of myself.

As I proofread this blog post, it occurred to me that I enjoyed the process of writing each of the nine pieces that I submitted in these contests. If that is all I get out of writing, that’s enough! Having the luxury at this time in my life to do some things that bring me joy is a gift that many people never experience.

Northern Colorado Writers Contest

I’ve entered another Northern Colorado Writers Contest. Last night I submitted an essay titled “George Govan, A Gentle Man” in the 2015 Northern Colorado Writers Personal Essay/Creative Nonfiction Contest. I reworked a piece I wrote about Mr. Govan before he died. That necessitated changing the tense in which it was originally written and gave me the advantage offered by the passage of time. Reflecting on the things I learned from Mr. Govan several years after his death afforded me the opportunity to realize the difference he made in my life and just how fortunate I was to have known him.

If not for my freelance writing job from 2006 through 2012, I probably never would have met Mr. Govan. I was under contract with a local weekly newspaper, Harrisburg Horizons, to write a local history column titled “Did You Know?” That work pushed me way out of my comfort zone and into the homes and lives of several elderly area residents. I visited Mr. Govan many times and never failed to learn something from him. As an elderly black man, his life experiences were much different from mine.

I’m glad I had the opportunity to know Mr. Govan. I must try to live in such a way that someone will say that about me someday.