I promised myself that after May 1st, I would be finished submitting my manuscript/selections from said manuscript to contests. I wanted to take a break for the summer. Free my mind to write something fresh. But (certainly you could sense the but coming) everytime I think I'm out...they pull me back in. (Please pardon the shameless Godfather reference). So, in the last two days I've written at least five checks to assorted literary contests, each promising to lovingly care for my work - to massage its feet and lavish it with praise - or at least that's what's implied by the slick phrasing of their ads in the magazines I can't keep myself from reading. Send us your cash, and we'll do the rest. And really, I'm happy to support the industry that I hope will one day support me. Such is my devotion (read obsession) that last night I went in search of a recently published novel written by one of the contest judges (I won't say which one). I had seen this book prominently displayed on the shelves at B&N in weeks past, but naturally, now that I was hoping to purchase it, it was nowhere to be found. The gal who consulted with the computer on their inventory appeared puzzled when none of the five copies they were supposed to have in stock appeared on the shelves. She resorted to asking a fellow human being who suggested she check the "Return" rack in the back room.
"I'll be back," she said. And in short order, the youngster returned carrying a stack of hardback books.
"These were going back to the warehouse?" I asked.
"No. I don't think. But no one has bought one yet, and they needed room for other stuff."
"So I saved her from oblivion?"
"I've brought her back to life!" I said, waving my copy triumphantly in the air.
Again, I won't mention the name of the book because I wouldn't want to be disqualified from the contest she's judging. I mean, can't you just see it unfolding? Somehow the 20 year old readers select my story from the stack. They manage to forward it to the 22 year old editors who miraculously agree with their understudies and voila! The unnameable judge reads my story. She loves it. Kicks herself for not writing it herself. And such is her devotion, she runs a search on my name. Stumbles upon this blog. Sees that I've rescued her book from the remainders and realizes that she can't choose my story because now we have a personal connection. In the fantasy world raging in my head, this is just exactly how it would happen.
So, I won't tell you the name of the book or the name of the contest or the name of the judge. And because of this one day some starry-eyed reader will save my story from obscurity. She will be compelled to read beyond the first three sentences all the way through to the last three sentences, run her fingers along the words as if they'd been written with her in mind; march right into the editor's dorm room, my story dangling from her armpit - demanding an audience. Undeterred by the naysayers. The heavily pierced skeptics. Stopping at nothing until she's granted a meeting with the big (un)nameable judge.