Sunday, October 21, 2018

"The Waiting Game" by Jan Collis

It’s October 5, and today’s the day we’re supposed to find out. All day long I wait, checking every email ping. So far, none of them is The One, the email that will tell l me if my short story is one of the final three.
I play solitaire, answer emails, edit a story in the works, eat and watch CNN. I’m like the proverbial cat on a hot tin roof. This is how I imagine it must be for writers waiting to find out if their agent sealed a deal for their book. Nerve-wracking.
It all began in an afternoon writing class when Brian mentioned some contests for short stories. The 2018 John Kenneth Galbraith Literary Award was one of them.
I looked up the website. A prize of $2,000 (nothing to be sneezed at); not less then 3,000 words (I have one of those); $10 entry fee (I can handle that). On a whim and two days before deadline, I dropped my story into the mailbox with a great amount of trepidation because the story hadn’t been read or edited by anybody. Oh dear, I probably just wasted ten bucks and $2.85 postage.
A few weeks later I received an email announcing that Charley’s Bench was one of the twelve semi-finalists in Galbraith national competition. I was astounded – and sure the email was a hoax.
When I found out that it was for real, I was elated. Even though I’d sent various full-length manuscripts out to agents, I’d never had any feedback. I likened writing to fishing. You never knew when you’d get a bite. Now I had a bite – a big one. My story had a shot!
Ping. I eagerly open the email. The waiting is over. My story was not one of the final three.
I take a few minutes while Dejection washes over me, but then I step out of the River of Wait, shedding Anticipation as I would shed droplets of water and wrap myself in the damp blanket of Sadness. Once again, I wasn’t good enough.
But wait, an inner voice declares, you were good enough to be one of the semi-finalists. Your story just didn’t resonate with this year’s judges. And this isn’t the only contest; it was your first contest. Change your way of thinking, Jan. Making the semi-finalist group on your first try means your writing is good enough.
As my Dad used to say, “shoulders back, chin up, march on.”
But …  will the Waiting and Anticipation get any easier? I doubt it.

Note: The John Kenneth Galbraith Literary Award is the best big-prize writing contest in Canada. It’s not well-known (except maybe to followers of Quick Brown Fox) and pays out a $2,000 prize. Details here.

Jan Collis has attended most of Brian’s writing classes and workshops plus a script-writing course from Laurier University. Though she’s had three feature-length articles published in The Hamilton Magazine, her main focus is writing period fiction for adults and she’s been known to cross into picture books, middle grade fantasy and a psycho-thriller movie script. She’s currently working on a series of short stories, one of which was recently a semi-finalist for the 2018 John Kenneth Galbraith Literary Award.

 See Brian’s complete current schedule hereincluding Saturday writing workshops, weekly writing classes, and weekend retreats in Algonquin Park, Alliston, Bolton, Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Collingwood, Georgetown, Georgina, Guelph, Hamilton, Jackson’s Point, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Midland, Mississauga, New Tecumseth, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Sudbury, Toronto, Windsor, Woodstock, Halton, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York Region, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.


  1. Or, as sports fans know, on any given day, even the top-rated team can lose the bottom-rated team. In any competition, there is no "sure thing".

  2. Loved the description about "waiting" - now just spin it by a few tens of thousands of words into a story!

    Nobody ever got anywhere by just sitting and wishing, keep doing.


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