Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Awesome Advice From 80's Music

As some of you know, I received some wonderful news a few weeks ago that I was accepted to the Highlights Foundation Whole Novel Fantasy Workshop.  The trip is just a few days away now and I'm looking forward to posting all the amazing things I learn next week from our faculty, fantasy authors Laura Ruby and Anne Ursu.  I still find it hard to believe I was accepted and I hope my story will help give you the courage to try out for the many programs, workshops, grants and amazing opportunities that are available to us writers.

When I first received the email from my SCBWI list serve regarding the workshop, I took a quick look at it, thought to myself, "That sounds like fun," then promptly pressed the little X shooing the message away.  But it didn't leave my mind.  Before long, I found myself reading the email again thinking to myself, "That sounds really fun," and closed it once more.  Half a second later, my itchy fingers clicked it open again and I couldn't stop thinking, "That sounds really really really fun!"  By then, the seeds of excitement had taken root in my brain.  The workshop sounded great: an entire week working on my manuscript with two fantasy authors while staying in little cabins, getting home-cooked meals each day AND having hours upon hours to write, write, write in the Poconos?  Throw in some pony rides and palm trees and it's practically heaven!  BUT it was pricey; it involved taking an entire week off of work; and they only accepted eight people into the program.  Sure, it would be awesome to go, but who was I kidding?  I'd never get in; never be able to afford it.  I almost talked myself out of bothering to apply.  Almost...
Now, I've applied for SCBWI grants and other things before and nothing has ever panned out.  (Truly, I've never been the luckiest of people--it's kind of ridiculous.  Ask anyone in my family.)  But here's where that 80's music comes in.  No matter how hard I tried to forget I ever read that email, daydreams of writing for a week in the serenity of the mountains just wouldn't let go.  And then, a string of lyrics crept into my mind:

So swallow all your tears my love
And put on your new face
You can never win or lose if you don't run the race... 

Yes, that is totally "Love My Way" by the Psychedelic Furs and yes, it ALWAYS gets stuck in my head when I'm in this situation.  I fretted and rationalized then fretted some more and the song just didn't go away until I found myself emailing the Highlights administrator asking for an application.  Oh, and did they have any scholarship opportunities too?  Unfortunately, the deadline was looming as I'd learned about the workshop a bit late; fortunately, I had just completed major revisions of the first few chapters of my manuscript so they were in acceptable submission shape.  So I crafted my application packet, filled out all the forms, said a little prayer and sent it on its way.  Then waited.  And waited a bit more.  (But not agonizingly long--I suppose that's one side benefit to sending in application packets at the last minute.)  And on March 15 while I was at the office scrambling to finish 1120S tax returns for our endless sea of clients, I got The Email.

At first, it was just like all those other letters I've gotten back from agents/editors/etc.: "Dear Kathryn, Thank you for your interest in (insert whatever agency/publishing house/organization here)We are pleased (wait, pleased?!) to invite you to attend..."  I think I read the email eight times, expecting the words to reassemble themselves and say, "Just kidding!"  Highlights actually picked me to go and awarded me a scholarship too?  It was too good to be true!  I'd expected to fall maybe somewhere between places 20-67 in their ranking of applicants, but certainly not in the top 8 that actually got to attend.  So after a little dance of joy, I emailed them back, "Yes! Thank you!" and now I'm packing my bags to head to Honesdale, PA in three more days. :)

So, let's get back to you.  Have you been eying a certain magazine you'd like to submit your short story to?  Hear about an upcoming workshop that tickles your fancy?  Been sweating over sending that query letter out?  Or maybe you're just trying to find the guts to write that first sentence of the novel brewing in your mind.  Well, you know what my 80's rocker pals have to say to that:

You can never win or lose if you don't run the race...

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