Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest

So I have entered the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest.  I waited till midnight on the dot before filling out the form, as the contest caps the number of submissions at 10,000.  I wasn’t taking any chances.  I had just cancelled my subscription to Microsoft Office (which was set to be renewed tomorrow, and I didn’t have the money for it), and a part of me feared that would be the only format the contest would accept my novel in.  I was relieved when that wasn’t the case.

I have noticed, so many contest deadlines are at the beginning of the year, so it’s been hectic, as a few of them, I didn’t find out about till close to the due date, and, to me, it’s hard to crank out a quality piece of writing in just a few day’s time.  I like to write something, work on it for a week or two (I’m talking short things here), and then put it away for awhile and go back over it with fresh eyes.  I have entered three poetry contests (one about trees in observance of Arbor Day, not in tribute to Joyce Kilmer’s poem, “Trees”, another in the spirit of Emily Dickinson and then Robert Frost), in addition to a regional contest in which I won first place for a epic Greek myth style poem when I was sixteen.  (That’s what you call hanging on to every blade of grass, as my dad would say.)  I haven’t entered that contest since the Last Millennium, for I’ve been treating writing as a hobby and not a profession (though I wouldn’t quit my day job, if I had one) the last ten or so years.

I have faith in my writing, it’s just that I don’t have much faith in other people seeing that it’s good.  I polish my work to a fine patina, and when it doesn’t win, I go back over it again.  I am a perfectionist that way, and in other ways which, ironically, impede achieving perfection, or something close to it.

With the exception of my blog, I am ready to take a weeklong break from writing.  I need to rest my eyes.  It was wonderful yesterday, Valentine’s Day, just enjoying family time and dinner out with my husband (without the baby).  Unplugging and recharging.  I want to spend more time with my daughter, reading to her, learning new songs to sing to her, among these other things:  <<This link has given me some great ideas.  I can’t wait till it’s warm again, where I can take her to the park across the street and blow bubbles.

I want to try new recipes, get together with a friend (also a writer, but we don’t talk shop the entire time) over coffee, and finally start on the soap-making business my mother and I are starting.  I need to clear my head.  It’s so easy to lose ourselves in our work, and lose perspective on what’s important (not that writing isn’t, but when my daughter is in a playful mood, I need to go to her–my writing can wait).

There was a time a few days ago where I was getting so frustrated because I was in the middle of something and couldn’t concentrate.  I’d done everything I could for her, and that’s when I realized that I needed to stop what I was doing, and focus on her, because she was the most important thing, and just that reminder gave me such peace.  I felt the anxiety just seep out of me, because I needed that break from my writing, too.  I almost always have my mind on other things when I start playing with her, but if I let myself, I get in to it.  The smiles alone make me not want to put her down or stop what I’m doing.  It’s so easy to get caught up in other, more exciting things, but we need our quiet, simpler times, just as they do.

When I started rereading some of Emily Dickinson’s poems (to prepare myself for the poetry contest in honor of her) and learning more about her, I was amazed that she wrote over 1800 poems in her life, but then I realized they didn’t have television and Facebook to distract them and occupy their time.  I know if we didn’t have cable, we wouldn’t watch as much TV.  I am much more selective about the programs I watch, and even those, I fast forward through the boring segments (like news shows).

I won’t let myself become one of those mothers who is too busy for her children, even when I do go back to a job outside the home.  I have to make time for them, even at the expense of something else (time I spend watching “I Love Lucy” reruns).  That’s why time, in so many ways, is a far greater sacrifice, or gift, than money.  You can always make more money, but you can’t make more time.

This is a great quote about time from  “We seem to value our time so little, that we find our worth based on how little of it we have.”  If you have time (pardon the pun), it’s worth reading.

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