Pencil to Paper

The Daily Life of a Compulsive Writer

Silver Keys and Schizophrenics February 1, 2012

Filed under: Writing — katblogger @ 8:59 PM
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Their logo, taken from I encourage anyone from grades 7-12 to apply next year. It's a good experience even if you get rejected (which happens to everyone, believe me.)

Some short stories take time. Others, especially flash fiction pieces of around one thousand words or less, are written in a sudden frenzy of inspiration. That’s what happened to me when I wrote Maria and the Angels. The sudden idea – a schizophrenic’s take on the end of the world (or is it?) – and a few striking images combined. I wrote the whole thing out in a notebook, forgot about it, and then retyped it a few months later into a 600-ish word piece of flash fiction. When I decided to enter the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, I brushed it off and sent it along with a longer short story and a group of poems. Maria was an afterthought. I never expected it to win.

So naturally I got a Silver Key. This seems to happen to me a lot. (The guessing wrong bit, not the winning things. That’s tragically rare.)

For a quick background, SAWA is a teen art and writing contest that moves through regional and national levels. Winning a Silver Key is a big honor – that means my piece was scored in the top 10% of my region – but also kind of disappointing. For me, the line stops here. Only Gold Keys move on to nationals, where they have a chance of getting a professional critique or cash rewards. It’s completely selfish to feel disappointed – I’m aware of that – but I can’t help it. I think humans are born always wanting more.

However, that won’t stop me from celebrating just a little, quietly and inside my head. This is one more thing to put on my resumé, one more step into the publishing world. At the beginning of this year, I had nothing. That’s what I call progress.


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