The memoir has to be the simplest genre in which to write. To me, it's so easy to write about your own experiences. There's no pressure to fabricate brilliant characters, scenes, and realistic dialogue... life has already created those things for the writer. So I quickly went to work putting my summer experiences at my grandparents' cabin on Lake Jordan in literary form. I revised, polished, revised some more, and I was completely satisfied with what I had done when I slid it into the manila envelope and sent it on its way to California to be judged.
Now, let me start by saying that I had no belief that I would win the contest. It was my first time ever sending my work off to be looked at by those who make a living off the written word. After I sent off my entry, I perused the website of the sponsoring company and realized I could read the winning entries from contests past. I was by no means impressed with what I read, and at that point began to think I may have a chance in landing one of the three top spots. As I stated last week, the winners were finally announced, and I was not one of them.
Last night, two of the winning entries - the first and second place memoirs - were finally posted on the website. I was disgusted. The first place entry was a loose interpretation of a memoir... it was a modified psychiatric evaluation questionnaire on grief. Even though I am not incredibly artsy, I was around enough artsy people in upper level English classes in college to have a general understanding of the kind of things artsy people like to do in writing. Even though I don't like the approach nor believe that a list of 20 questions equates a memoir, I can at least interpret that there is a feeling of grief behind what was written. There was feeling behind each question. But the second place entry..... I am in utter disbelief.
The second place entry was all about this writer's relationship with her female parts throughout her life. How she felt about her parts in her childhood, in her free sexual days of her twenties, and after she had her children. Yes... you are reading this right... she basically wrote and ode to her vagina and actually won money for doing so.
If I had only known... I totally forgot to throw the word vagina into my memoir. Totally forgot. And I didn't have any curse words either, and I am pretty sure I got docked some points for lack of vulgarity.
I've already sent in the fee to have my entry critiqued, and I am beyond interested to see what these judges have to say about my entry. Beyond interested. Truth is, I am finally realizing and accepting that I write well. It's hard - always has been - for me to accept that I do something well. Why is that? The nice girl inside of me says, "Well... it's just not nice to think you are better at something than someone else...." But in reality, when you have a gift or talent, you should reach a point in your life that you are able to accept that you are better than some, just not better than all and never will be the absolute best. I mean, that's what I try to teach my kids - accept that you have a talent, work hard to be the best, do well with humility, and realize that there is always someone out there more talented than you. I digress...
I am also realizing that I am not main stream. I am not worldly. I am not mass production. I am not provocative in an American sort of way. I don't use foul words in my writing. I won't write about sexual escapades (mainly cause I don't have any) or my feelings about my girl parts (cause I never really realized that those feelings were literarily appealing). I want to write about life... about how God reveals Himself through the everyday... about His love and how it's displayed. I want to make people think, not about vagaygays or abstract writing styles or pushing the envelope, but about their relationship to the One who created them and His love for His creation. I want to write words that mean something. I want another woman to read my words and think, "Oh, wow..."
So, I am over the writing contests. I don't need accolades or recognition from haughty-taughty, artsy-fartsy writers. I don't need a degree. I don't need a fancy office or business card. I will just continue to write my story and know in my heart that it's a good one. That one day, when my story is complete, it will reach the desk of someone whom God has purposed and she or he will say, "Now here's a story with meaning..." I will write for God, and He will work the rest out for me.
Here's my favorite verse right now. It would take a whole other post to explain why, so I won't...
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come to me and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you..." Jeremiah 29: 11 - 14