Wiping sweaty hands on my pant leg under the table, I waited for the announcement of the contest winners. Backwards from honorable mention to first place, four names were read. Mine wasn't one of them.
Disappointment, the first of my writing career, washed over me like an arctic wave.
Knowing that most writer's first submissions are rejected many times before they make it anywhere if they make it at all did not help the sinking of my stomach. My mind kept repeating the reality of what I should have expected, but my heart didn't care. Telling myself that my submission hadn't been perfect changed nothing. My heart didn't want to hear it.
It wanted to win.
Doubts, clawed monsters looking to make holes within my self-confidence, whirled inside my mind. Am I meant to do this? Do I really have what it takes to be a writer? Am I smart enough? Am I being delusional? Like superwoman trapped in a cage fight with kryptonite hanging around my neck, I faced off against these clawed monsters. Their words ripped at me, shredding my confidence. I stumbled. My defeat near at hand. I looked up and saw my dreams floating outside the cage. With each swipe of doubt's claws, they became more translucent. They were fading. So. Not. Happening. With a surge of my formidable will, I shook off the kryptonite and sprang free from it's cloying weight. With freedom came the instant, monster killing, realization.
I don't write to win contests. I write because writing is fun and I love it. Why would I give that up because of one contest? How dare these doubts tell me otherwise.
Not having a nature that dwells on disappointments, I quickly reminded myself that another contest waited just around the corner. I have work to do if I want my submission to have a chance in that contest. But I am determined. I will revise, edit, and keep entering these contests until I see results. I am no quitter.
I am a writer. And I don't listen to clawed monsters.