Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner

I am a nervous wreck today.

It’s pretty stupid to be so worked up, really.  My life is not going to change; when I go to sleep tonight, I will be the same person I was when I woke up this morning.

The list of winners of the Launching A Star contest is supposed to be announced today.

I really have no idea why I’m all cranked up like this.  I know I’m too early in my career, too inexperienced, too unpolished to win the top prize.  I am not going to get a star named for me in the National Star Registry, and I’m okay with that.  That honor belongs to someone more advanced than I am.

That’s not being negative.  That’s just being realistic.

I entered this contest with no delusions about winning in my category, either.  I just wanted to be a finalist, because the judges for the final round  are editors and agents who can critique my work and tell me where I need to improve.  Imagine having my work in the hands of a real editor and a real agent!  Launching A Star finalists have been known to get full manuscript requests and go on to actually sign publishing contracts, all as a result of making it to the final round.

And I finaled.

Cool.

Then it dawned on me that there are only three finalists in my category.

Third Place is great.  Third Place is more than I expected or even hoped for.   I  can put it on my writing resume:  “Third place finisher in the 2012 Launching A Star Contest” instead of “Finalist in the 2012 Launching A Star Contest.”  It is a validation of me as a writer.  It’s my big “So there!” to certain people in my life who refer to my writing as my little stories and ask me when I’m going to get a real job.

Hot damn, third place.

So why am I on pins and needles?  What am I hoping for?  Whether from humility or insecurity, I really don’t think I took First or Second.  It would just be too much to ask, too soon.   And I’m very much okay with that.  When the winners list comes out today, I am going to sing from the rooftops with joy over that third place finish.

But . . . now there is this tiny spark of utterly unrealistic hope:  what if I won?

I’ll admit, I googled  the other two finalists in my category.  One of them  seems to be very active in writing groups and forums; her name pops up in several places, along with some really intelligent questions and comments she has made.  My money is on her winning our category.

The other is an enigma.  She shares her name with a 1940’s pinup girl, but there is no information about her as a writer.  We’re probably pretty evenly matched for second place, although her title is way cooler than mine.

With all of the categories combined, there are thirty-seven finalists.  I wonder how the other thirty-six are feeling right now.  Am I the only one behaving like a four year-old on Christmas Eve?  Perhaps they are just going through their day without a thought toward the announcement, only to utter a casual “oh, was that today?” when they read their email tonight.

Whatever the mood, whatever the hopes – good luck to all of the writers who made it this far, and congratulations to every single one of you for making the final round.  Here’s wishing we could all get together tonight for a celebratory round of virtual drinks.

I am honored to be one of you.

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