Unbagging the Cats 1

Unbagging the Cats 1

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Preparing For the Release of the 89th-Place Entry

Hope you didn't drop in just to read my 89th-place-winning entry in the 80th Annual Writer's Digest Writing Competition, Memoirs/Personal Essay category. Because you will be sorely disappointed to find out that this gem will not be unveiled until Sunday at 3:00 p.m., Central Daylight Time.

That's because I need a little more time to gloat, to revel in my 89th-placedness. To wallow in my fame and celebrity. To work the 89th-place kinks out of my brain so that the everyday mediocre fog can settle in again. My fifteen minutes of quasi-fame are about to wane. I've got to round up some litter-carriers to bear me through the streets, while I lounge in a recliner and disperse witticisms to the crowds lining the victory route. Funny how no litter-carriers have applied yet.

This afternoon, I passed no less than fifteen cars on my county road, over the distance of the two-and-a-half miles to the lettered highway. On a normal day, I might pass one. I was sure they were heading to my home, to admire me from a tasteful distance, having gotten wind of my plan to put up that billboard by the prison to direct people to my house. Imagine my surprise when, on the return trip, I saw a poster of a pig three turnoffs before mine. Oh, well. I suppose a pig roast on a fine October day is right up there with gawking at an 89th-place winner.

But enough of this nonsense. My cheeks have grown Dizzy-Gillespie tired of tooting my own horn. Let's get down to some facts on my little contest entry.

1. I had entered once before, about five years ago, and won nothing. I toy with the entry idea every year, but put it off until it's the end-of-school crunch time, and it doesn't get done.

2. This year, I thought the deadline had passed. For some reason, I went to either the Writer's Digest website, or Chuck Sambuchino's blog, and found out the deadline had been extended by one week. Which gave me two days to submit an entry.

3. My entry reads like it was done in two days. I cut and pasted and rewrote and tweaked and agonized over the format. Still, I spent two days on it. It would have benefited from a good month to marinate, to age, to grow more mature than that smart-aleck cheese on the Cheez-It commercial.

4. The limit for my category was 2000 words. I'm a wordy gal. I had to pare away like a sous chef for Bobby Flay in Kitchen Stadium. This left my entry a bit disjointed, like one of those push puppets on a round base that dance and collapse.
4. Last year the contest had 12,300 entries. I don't know how many there were this year. But there were still ten categories. I don't know if Memoirs/Personal Essay is a big or small category. I would assume it draws more entries than Television/Movie Script, but fewer than Genre Short Story.

5. What is my memoir about? Somebody who shall remain nameless asked that on the original 89th-place-winner post. Taking a lesson out of John Wayne's primer, along the vein of Rooster Cogburn in the courtroom, who declared, "Well, I always go backward when I'm backing away," I can truthfully attest that my memoir is about my life. Thanks so much for setting me up for a True Grit reference!

6. I'm guessing that the judges liked my voice, or that other people did not follow the submission guidelines. Because my entry was trimmed within an inch of my life, and does not flow as smoothly as I might have desired. But what can you do, when you're an Aquarian procrastinator, but rest on your 89th-place laurels and hum Dusty Springfield's rendition of It Goes Like It Goes, the theme song from Norma Rae:

"So it goes like it goes
Like the river flows
And time, it rolls right on.
And maybe what's good gets a little bit better,
And maybe what's bad, gets gone."

Sunday. 3:00 p.m. Central Daylight Time. The debut of my entry, "One Great Big Not-Listening Party." Be there. Perhaps I can serve some sparkling cider and Cheez Its, while my loyal cadre of supporters mingle and chew the fat.


Sioux said...

I am assuming that if we send $19.98, we can get an autographed
8x10 glossy, right?

Val Thevictorian said...

Well, due to inflation, the cost is now $24.99.

I had totally overlooked the merchandising potential of my 89th-place win. Thank you for giving me this most scathingly brilliant idea. I am also considering a new pseudonym: Sandy Beach, Pearl Ring, Fleur de Lis, or Kim Novak. However, I think I'll nix the Kim Novak nom de plume, since a lawsuit could seriously cut into my prize winnings of $0.00.