Not me. Well, I was the first runner up, which is, as my ridiculously funny and brutally honest friend said, the “first place loser.” Which is ridiculously funny and brutally honest. It did get me thinking though, that writing is always a competition. As much as it felt good to be shortlisted the winner’s seat is the only spot that feels really satisfying to sit at. Besides, I don’t know that I like being labelled as “number 2”.
Aside from the slight ego deflation at the results, the evening itself was fun, and I take pride in telling you that I opened the potty mouth wide and let it fill the room. Once there, I’d convinced myself that children or no children, I would own the words. Big thanks to all of you who posted advice, emailed or facebooked me and gave me your two bits. 🙂 My mind was made up before I walked into the Leacock Museum, and I was ready to read my submission as is.
The event hosted about 75 guests, all dolled up nicely and ready for the reading. Dinner was lovely. The lake-side museum was picturesque. But I was a little shaken. It wasn’t the young attendees (about six kids) at the event making me second guess myself, but it was the handful of old folks! Really old folks. Eeeks! I didn’t poll my blog readers about a dozen grey hairs that made 90 look like the new 80.
Now I had a new dilemma. At least the kids could think I was cool I rhyming off the f-bomb and the other offenders, but the seniors might label me a dirty girl. A nasty, foul-mouthed young’un who disgraced the room. My hubby, my mom and my two sister-in-laws said not to worry about it. Just do it, they said. They probably won’t even hear you, they said. It made sense, but I still was unconvinced.
Until the winner of the short story got up and read his piece. It was a well crafted, moving story about restaurant workers during the tragic day of 9-11. The room was captivated during his reading, as was I. Until one of his character’s yelled “Frigger!” And I thought, no, that character wouldn’t yell “Frigger!”. I’m sure that character actually yelled “Fucker!”
And so, my decision was made. I would read it loud and proud, even as first runner up. The curses were about to sing.
And they did sing. And the reading went well. But the best part of the evening was when Dorothy, 74 year old woman and her friend, Yvette came over and praised my work. “You captured the voice of a teenager so perfectly”, they said. They didn’t gasp at the f-bomb, or how flawed my character was. And it dawned on me, that people are only human. Imagine that. Whether 14 or 84, there’s something about the flaws of human nature that people are drawn to and relate with. The perfectionist in me often skews my perception of people, and case in point, it happened again this night.
So thank you Dorothy and Yvette for keeping it real. And thank you to the Mariposa Writers’ Group for a great evening, a nice award and a pretty little check that will buy me a pretty pair of new shoes to help me keep it real. Or at least to keep it pretty.