Friday, July 17, 2015

Feelings of Accomplishment

As a teacher, I was qualified to enter the Norman Mailer creative nonfiction writing contest. This contest is open to all full and part time middle and high school teachers in the world! Imagine how many entries and imagine the odds of winning one slot. Shall we be conservative and say 1 in 10,000?? Yet, I still had the audacity to enter.

The maximum entry was 20 pages of single space verse. I am used to writing 500 word essays-- my comfort, my forte, my safe zone. Twenty pages seemed daunting, so I approached the assignment by writing a series of 500 word essays that could connect to each other in theme. With three of these essays written and with a copy and paste approach, I wrote interim transitional thoughts that tied it all together. My entry ended with 13 single spaced pages. A grand accomplishment for a short-short kind of writer.

In order to accomplish the task, I had to dedicate the whole of Thursday to this essay. I started at 9:00 a.m and had to finish by 5:00 p.m. CST. I uploaded my file and pushed submit at 4:58 p.m. CST!

A rush! A coup! I did it! I won't even think about winning, because I already won in the doing of the task. I'll file the email confirmation away and forget about the contest. And next year, when I am reminded of the contest again, I will remember the exhilaration of stretching myself, of accomplishing for accomplishment sake, for the joy of working hard and long, for the joy of accomplishment.


Writing is my sudoku, finishing the marathon, starting repentance, returning to teaching after a difficult first year, working into a prosthetic, mastering a concerto, memorizing the Family Proclamation, graduating with a GED. I feel accomplished and empowered after the endeavor. It is how children develop confidence--from hard work and overcoming obstacles, not from unearned praise. They know it, we know it.

Oh remember, remember, and let it prepare me for the next difficult task. For the stretch, for the joy.