If you missed Part 1 click here!
It started out as barbed remarks. A competitor messaged me, saying hi, how was I doing? My picture looked so nice! He would rather lose to me than anyone else. He’d read my sample, and honestly my writing wasn’t very deep. I used phrases like “giggling”. Not very mature, or, apparently, good writing.
Then came the protests against my legitimacy as a candidate. Among the complaints that I wasn’t actually living in Fairfield at the time were phrases like “young girl”, and other swipes at my validity as an author. The judges kept me in the contest, but did little else to calm the storm, so several evenings were spent at home, crying in frustration as I tried not to engage. I wanted to defend myself, wanted to call out the unfairness of my work and myself being so constantly criticized for being what they were and for succeeding at it.
I was a young woman trying to publish a book about a young woman. How dare I?
My friends and family helped me weather the storm, some of them going to battle for me, others helping me laugh at the more ridiculous aspects of the farce. We kept asking for votes, kept getting support, and forged ahead, keeping a careful eye on how we were doing. A month after the contest opened, it closed, with a radio broadcast of the readings again, ending with the announcement of the winners.
I had come in with the most total votes. But, because of “a margin of error”, I was declared a co-winner with the contestant with the second-most votes. We were both going to be published. I tied with the man who had tried his damnedest to get me kicked out.
I wish I could say I walked away from this with my head and my book held high, and never looked back except to thank the people who had so lovingly supported me. I wish I could say that I didn’t feel like there was someone who the contest winners had clearly wanted to win, and it wasn’t me. I wish I could say that I silenced forever the little voice that popped up and asked, “Do I deserve this?” But I can’t.
What I can say, however, is that I did it. I wrote a book, a book that I love, a book that I’m proud of, and people can buy that book. I have given signings, gotten reviews, both good and bad, and have seen my book on the shelves of more than one bookstore. And I’m working on a second one. And a third.
I think I’ll always have to deal with people in the writing world telling me “you don’t count” simply because of who I am and what I write. But I’m fortunate enough to have a strong countercurrent against that, and people who want to listen to the stories I have to tell. Not everyone has that. I was lucky to have the opportunity that I did, and even luckier that there were so many people in my life, whether in the center or the periphery, who stepped forward and said, “I want to see this published.” That was the force that won and overruled the voices saying “no”.
For more on the process of working with a publisher check back in next week! Read my review of Untold here or an interview with Amy here. You can find Amy on Facebook and her Website.
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