HI, FRIENDS! For the past several hours, I have been screaming, flailing, and crying mixed emotions because something happened in the writing world after months of waiting and waiting, and it has something to do with this little writing competition called the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Okay, perhaps it is not as small of a deal as it appears to be, and yes, this is the same competition which I entered in last year and received a small award in, and once again, I won something. I worked increasingly hard on these pieces to the point of being stressed with gray hairs appearing on the ends! It’s been such an insane journey.
This morning. I was greeted by my AP Language teacher, who I discussed all the setbacks and waiting I encountered. “I’m stressing out. See, the forms I had to mail out had the wrong address—well, right address, just the wrong department—and I don’t know if they received them or not. Plus, waiting all month in January is excruciating. My brain is internally screaming.”
“I don’t think your brain internally stresses, Morning,” he remarked back.
I nodded. “Yeah. It’s probably actually just me stressing out over little details that really shouldn’t be a big deal that I stress over anyway.” Who wouldn’t be shaking with nervousness if the envelope was sent to the wrong address and kept refreshing their email every ten minutes to see if results were released anyway?
Today, third and fourth hour passing was nerve-wracking. The blue lunch bag perched on my right wrist struck my stomach several times, and in my right hand was my phone. A list of one-hundred sixty-nine pages of names and columns overwhelmed my brain. Thoughts scattered my mind. The jolting feeling of a dropped stomach from first hour’s email notification rang my body once again. I typed in the first three letters of my last name—over one hundred results popped up. Fingers scrolled down through the page, and as I entered the choir room, I realized that my name appeared on that list, plastered with the Silver Key Regional Award.
A Silver Key.
I screamed in the classroom, hands flailing in the air, heartbeat pulsating through. A Silver Key wasn’t enough to enter nationals, but it was a set higher than an Honorable Mention, which was what I received last year. People gazed upon the scene oddly (as I hardly EVER scream in that class). I perched in my chair, glanced at the list twice, and saw that not one, but TWO of my three entered contest pieces received Silver Keys in the competition.
Fast forward running into a classroom and screaming congratulations to a friend from the book competition team who also entered the competition but was unaware of the results coming out. We spent roughly ten minutes screaming and hugging and crying and jumping around the classroom, congratulating one another. It was like we invented the cure for cancer and miraculously saved a litter of puppies. Fangirling screams that appear when new book releases come out did not match up with this—this was ten times greater than whatever Green, Rowling, Stiefvater, and Han book hybrid that ever came out which also included free chocolate in its purchase, because unlike waiting for a book by another author coming out, the work being celebrated was written by our own hands.
What were the two pieces that received recognition? A personal essay / memoir piece and a flash fiction piece entitled “Parents, Listen to Your Children,” and “The (Starving) Artist’s Dilemma,” respectively. I took a ton of risks this year, for two main reasons. One, both pieces were written in second person. Second person is hard to use because its riskier. It’s imperative that if second person is being used, the author can convincingly allow the reader to portray their feelings due to the direct usage of “you.” Secondly, the subject matter was risky.
“Parents, Listen to Your Children” does not necessarily denote the relationship down to its two titular subjects, although it does heavily focus on that. The moral of the story was incredibly important to me and was something that I desperately wanted to share: relationships, specifically those revolving around friends and family, involve two people, and for the relationship to work, both sides need to be open to listen to one another, even if their ideas may clash at first glance and one side wants to shut the other right away. Because it was a personal essay / memoir, it was a very honest and emotional journey that just hits the feels constantly.
“The (Starving) Artist’s Dilemma,” unlike its sister entry, was fueled with a more frustrated look on art and social validation, and was an idea I’ve had for some time now after thinking about indie artists with some of the most amazing songwriting not having a larger audience. It almost seemed paradoxical to be sending something admonishing to the art community about social validation through a contest, but with the use of strong language, it was also meant to point out the imperfect, cracked edges of the community, which was the main point I wanted to get across.
What am I going to do now? Because I want to edit my pieces and give them more time to shine either in my senior portfolio and other writing contests, I will not be sharing them publicly online. Also, because Gold and Silver Key recipients are eligible for a summer scholarship in several writing programs in the country, I’m going to see if I’m able to apply.
Now, excuse me, I’m going to retreat into my room and perhaps scream and be happy some more.