Last year, I blogged about not being a finalist for the Golden Heart.
What a difference a year makes. Jeanne Pickering Adams, the Region One representative to RWA®'s board, phoned me this morning to announce that Blackjack & Moonlight is a Golden Heart® finalist in this year's contest.
Two things have popped into my head since this morning.
First, something Jim Kelly said in a workshop at Stonecoast, the MFA program I started this year. The subject was story elements, and Jim said the choices the protagonist makes at the end of Act One and Act Two should be "one-way doors." He was talking about those decisions that can't be undone. Once you say yes, or take that job, or get that phone call, it can't be reversed. Like the saying in trial advocacy: you can't unring the bell.
Like I say, I hope I'm ready.
But I know my writing is ready. That's the funny thing. Blackjack has been rejected by over 50 agents and editors, pretty much everyone who might be interested in it. Throughout that entire process, I knew it could be improved, but I also knew it was good. The problems the professionals saw--lack of external conflict and the focus on urban professionals--I knew were actually strengths. I just wasn't presenting them in the best possible way.
That brings me to the other thing that popped into my head this morning.
My sister and I were at a fitting for my wedding dress in fall 1998 when she asked me a question. Understand, I was 42 and this was a first marriage for me.
"Had you given up?" Ann asked. She was talking about the statistics that claimed (pre-9/11) that women in my age cohort were more likely to get killed by a terrorist than to get married. (Here's Snopes on why that's a false statement, as it happens.)
I hadn't given up, even though I probably should have. I wasn't just a woman over 40, I was obese and quite "quirky." But I'd never worried about it.
When I answered her, though, I admitted to the one thing about my engagement that had surprised me. "I never expected to be this happy."
I had reason to call my first husband recently and thank him for all the love and support he has given me and continues to give me. Marrying him took me through a one-way door into a better, healthier, happier place than I'd ever been in before. Marrying my second husband took me to a more productive and creative place.
Each marriage was a one-way door. I may have divorced Henry, but I can't (and wouldn't) undo the wonderful gifts our marriage gave us. And I simply would never have started writing again without marriage to Ross.
I just walked through another open door. I wasn't ready last year. With Henry and Ross by my side in Anaheim at RWA National, I'll be able to handle it, whatever it turns out to be.