A couple of weeks ago I got a phone call from my fiction writing professor while I was at work. The head of the English department had reminded her that he needed student submissions for The League for Innovation Literary Competition, and he needed it by the following morning. She was calling to find out if it would be possible for me to finish my revision of my first story, Leda & the Swan, in time. I cannot seem to say no to this woman, so I left Figure Drawing a little early that night and sat up until midnight making changes to the story based on the suggestions I received from my professor and students in my class during my workshop. Though still not completely satisfied with it, I felt much better about the overall pace, character development, and ending. I sent it off to her by email and completely forgot about the competition until last night.
I arrived to class about 5 minutes late because my brain wandered off somewhere while driving and I found myself taking the wrong highway to school, resulting in detour that added about 10-15 minutes to my trip. My professor was just finishing up an explanation of our final portfolio review guidelines, and I took my usual seat in the back of the room. Once she'd finished explaining the handouts, a couple of people began handing out their stories to the class, for their workshop date next week. Story handouts are always a little hectic because half the class seems to be standing up trying to make sure they get everything they're supposed to have, and getting in one another's way.
Everyone was settling back into their seats and I was busy organizing the sudden influx of paper on my desk, when I half-heard the words "League for Innovation". I glanced up from what I was doing just as my professor announced that I had won our district, and that my story is going on to the national competition. I was so shocked, the first thing I blurted out was, "What?!"
I don't expect to win the national competition of course, this is the first story I've ever written. But after class, when I was asked to stay and discuss my second story with my professor, she commented that she'd wished she could have sent that one instead because she liked it even more. I don't know what to think. I've never pursued any sort of writing major or career path because it seemed impossible in the same way that being recognized for any kind of art feels impossible. It still doesn't feel easy by any means, but it doesn't seem completely out of reach anymore, either.
Graduation is spiraling toward me at an alarming rate, and I still have no idea what I'm doing. I have five classes left, and only one is an elective. The more classes I take, the more I want to explore different avenues and possibilities. There isn't enough time to try everything I'm curious about before I have to choose my area of concentration. And I'm so scattered I can't even seem to narrow down the school I plan to attend next, though I hope to have at least that much figured out this fall. Everything is just moving too quickly. I feel like I'm in one of those cheesy cop movies where the detective handcuffs his weaselly informant to the rear-view mirror, and they have to run alongside the car in order to keep from falling down and being crushed under the tires.