Monday, March 26, 2012

One-Way Doors

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.

I stepped through a one-way door this morning. From everything I've read, once you're a Golden Heart finalist, you're always a finalist. It's ad copy, it's the perfect intro to a pitch, it's the lead paragraph to a query letter. It's a big deal.

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.


  1. Magdalen--
    Oh wow! Yay!!(Insert Kermit arm waves here).

  2. I AM SO EXCITED FOR YOU!!!!!!! You are the first Golden Heart finalist I've "known" before their nomination - Squeeee!

    Oooh, and you'll probably have a really full dance card! Soak up every single minute of it - and I'll see you there. Not staying at the hotel since it's in my neck of the woods - but I'm attending the conference and commuting :)

  3. Wow, Magdalen!!! Congratulations! (((HUGS))) I can't wait to hear how you do.

    1. You realize we shall expect photos of whatever awesome outfit you wear to the ceremony!

      Congratulations again!!!

  4. Congratulations my fellow finalist. :) I love this concept. Though I think we've stepped through a door into a giant circus, and I'm not sure I'm ready for this kind of spotlight. Then again, not going back through that door so I better get ready!

    Looking so forward to meeting you in person!

  5. Congratulations. I hope you make it on the top. Having a journey like that really does not require you to go back. You should look back, put you must always move forward. Good luck. shoji screens

  6. Wow! Congratulations to you! Being there is indeed a privilege, good luck to your journey. Always keep in mind that although you are entering a one-way door, you are going somewhere and you have to work hard for that instead of thinking about not being able to go back but always keep your feet on the ground. wicker outdoor furniture


Hi. This is a moribund blog, so it gets spammed from time to time. Please feel free to comment, but know that your comment may take a few hours to appear simply as a result of the spam blocking in place.