PNWA Seattle Writer's Conference 2018

I was embarassed. After all, I’d gotten everything I wanted and more: a supportive circle of new writer friends, 9 agents and editors interested in my manuscript, and a new plot-charting technique that will help me write faster, forever. To top it off, my submission in the PNWA literary contest had won me a spot among 9 Finalists in the Memoir/Nonfiction Category. But as I sat in my favorite purple dress at the Awards Banquet, my heart thumping loudly against my sternum, they announced the first, second, and third place winners in my category. And none of them were me.

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I hadn’t been the picture of humility. I’d been excited.

The new writer friends were gathered around the white linen tablecloth behind me. Alex’s camera was hovering to my right, trained expectantly on my face. I turned to him, shook my head. It was over. The moment that we’d thought was coming wasn’t here, after all.

A deep shame crept up my chest, flooding my face with heat. I didn’t care about not winning. I cared about being seen as expectant. I cared that my new friends had watched my boyfriend film what he’d assumed would be my shining moment, and that just before the announcements I’d turned and beamed into the camera, a giddy “maybe-this-is-it” kind of grin. I hadn’t been the picture of humility. I’d been excited.

The people around me had had a brief glimpse of a scary truth, the truth that I’ve been working to accept for most of my life: that I’m worthy. And, lately, that I actually feel like I’m worthy.

But let’s get one thing straight: we are all worthy. There wasn’t a single manuscript at that conference that didn’t deserve some kind of prize. Everyone, absolutely everyone, had worked very hard on their book ideas. These writers had poured over police files so they could write a believable detective story, or spent months in Paris to research art forgery for a novel, or relived a harrowing experience so they could distill it into a juicy memoir.

I like leaving room for miracles. So does Alex. So when the winners were announced, and I’d shaken my head at him, he turned the camera on himself. “WUPS!” he crowed over the applause, “Sorry folks! That didn’t turn out the way we-”

SHH, I scolded, but I was laughing. Because sometimes that’s what you do: hold the camera ready, inviting the Universe to surprise you, and when things go differently than you expected, you turn it into a joke. You laugh. Because you know either way that you’re worthy. We all are.

Always leave room for a miracle. ;) And leave a comment below if you’re inspired.