I mentioned a while back that I was entering a writing contest. I misunderstood the due date at first, which was a relief. It gave me extra time I dearly needed. It was a very difficult topic. But the prize will be worth it if I am chosen. And if I don’t, I will have grown for the experience. Either way, I win.
I don’t feel at liberty to divulge what I wrote about until the winners have been chosen. But it forced me to think about things deeply. It was difficult to compose. It would’ve been so easy to just launch into fantasy.
Years ago, I loved to write fiction. I had a creative, unfettered mind, and fiction came easily. Two decades down the road, though, the realities of life and childrearing have all but smothered my creative bent. I have chosen an unfamiliar road, which, while I was not ill-prepared, it has taken turns I never foresaw. I like predictability; living life on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, while exciting as all hell, leaves me dumped out at the exit gate every Friday night wondering what happened. Monday morning’s plans usually get tossed aside moments after waking when the week arrives.
I remember years ago, feeling that we should buy a home. Renting was not smart anymore, and the market was going up nicely. We needed to bite the bullet. We found a lovely little place that needed quite a bit of cleanup and a few minor repairs. It was in a lovely, bustling neighborhood within walking distance of downtown. I could see this place serving us well for many years. Hubby began turning the exterior into a park-like yard on weekends while I unpacked and decorated, and geared our lessons around the work and archaeological digs appearing outside. A large compost pile turned out to be the remains of an entire kitchen remodel under a few shovelfuls of dirt. My children learned a lot of real-life history, math, and science skills while my plans for the future finalized in my mind. I was just settling in and had volunteered for a position in my church when hubby called me from work one evening.
“How do you feel about moving to Las Vegas?” What??? We just got the house finished, and we’re considering a transfer? We were on the road the following month, having lived in our lifetime home a grand total of 16 months. It was an incredible investment, to be sure, but I was saddened to leave its prolific cut flower and kitchen gardens, as well as the solid group of homeschooling mentors who lived in the area. It was also the last time I saw my native California.
This is standard life for us. There is never a dull moment and anything could happen tomorrow. And while this is true of anybody, my husband’s career has predisposed us to more twists and turns than the average family. Moves, cross-country trips, and complete schedule changes can happen on less than a day’s notice. Gosh, before we had kids, he was commuting 100 miles to work each direction, so we moved closer, a decision which doubled our rent. Between signing the contract and moving in the following month, however, he was transferred to Baltimore. I moved into the strange neighborhood alone, and before long, was commuting back to my original job daily.
So I had to put myself, in my head, into the situation the contest called for to persuasively write on it. It had to become reality for me. This would be a lot easier if I’d had a dream or something which put some pictures into my mind to start with. Now I have an idea of how Heath Ledger died. Playing a part, putting yourself into shoes that are not really yours to wear can be dangerous to your emotional balance. I would not have done this if I needed to be evil. If I had, you’d have seen my name in the paper as well, although probably not front page news. I will never be an actress.
It will be January before winners are announced, so I will update you further then. At some point, I will publish the article in its entirety. In the meantime, I pray that my writing cuts the mustard, that my ideas intrigue the judges, and that I don’t get thrown on the discard pile first round.