I've been writing a memoir. It's about my dad--how he raised my sister and me after our mom died and how he eventually became my best friend. I submitted my manuscript to The Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference's Book Manuscript Competition for 2012 and I submitted a personal essay to the conference's Personal Essay Competition.
I checked my email this morning and got some awesome news. My manuscript was selected as one of the top 20 entries and now I'll participate in the Book Manuscript Workshop. The winner of the Book Manuscript Competition receives a money prize and a publishing deal with UNT Press. Yes, he or she gets his or her book published. That is my dream! I can't believe I get to be a part of this workshop. I am over the moon. Even if I don't get the book deal, I'm still incredibly happy and proud of this accomplishment.
The writing competition coordinator also told me that my essay was selected as one of the top 50 essays, which would make one eligible to participate in the Personal Essay Workshop in addition to possible prize money. The conference will only allow me to participate in one of the workshops, so they pulled my personal essay out of that competition since I'd rather have my memoir go through the book manuscript workshop.
I feel so honored. The coordinator said that the competition was fierce. So just getting a spot in either contest's workshop, let alone being recognized in both is unbelievable. What really made me feel good was how she felt about my writing. After reading my entry for the Personal Essay competition, the coordinator wrote me and said: "I just read your essay. What a range of emotions are in that piece. On page four I was in tears, page eight I was fascinated, then angry then finally admiring your attitude and your Dad's determination." That's what it's about for me--reaching readers like that. I loved getting that email and even printed it out. It might come in handy when I'm having a bad day...
For now, I'm smiling a lot and counting the days until the workshop on July 20. I'll be reading the work of 9 other finalists (they'll be reading mine) and going through a critique with them. Plus, I'm going to meet some incredibly talented writers, editors, and literary agents. So far, all signs are pointing to July being a very good month. What a great first day of July!