April 10, 2006. That was the date. A writing workshop announced that entrants vying for an all-expense-paid trip to a resort in northern Indiana would be notified on that date of their acceptance. Early in February, I entered a dynamite first chapter of a work in progress. I followed instructions religiously and sent in my application. All I had to do was wait and when selected, make my plans to go.
I even marked the date on my calendar with a note that said, "Writer's retreat announcement." Nothing to do but wait for them to give me direction on what I needed to bring with me. I told all my friends I was trying for one of the six fiction slots to be awarded, so they could rejoice with me when the announcement came. I made sure I had the required 20 pages completed so the instructors could give me a thorough critique. They probably wouldn"t find much. Maybe a comma or two.
Announcement day was a Monday, and I made sure my friends knew I was in the running during the weekend before. Notification would be made by e-mail. I had entered the competition last year and had been selected as an alternate. I'd been ready to go last year at the drop of a hat. No one died. No one had an emergency. No one decided they didn't want to go. Not that I was hoping for a death. Of course not! But if one occurred that was fate, not me. I was not God. I took solace that I had been deemed almost worthy.
Monday arrived and I was proud of myself. I waited until 9:10 am to check my e-mail for the acceptance notification. No message was there. Each hour during the day I made an excuse to check my e-mail. As if I didn't check it that often anyway. No message from the writing workshop. They must have forgotten that this was the day.
My last check of e-mail at 11:58 pm kind of worried me. What if I hadn't made it? Hah, forget that. I read what I sent them. It was good.
I didn't sleep well that night. The e-mail man kept telling me I had mail, and when I went to check, nothing was there. And he would laugh at me. I finally shot him with a .357 I bought at the local dream Wal-Mart.
Tuesday morning I awoke and timidly checked my e-mail. No message. I didn't check every hour on Tuesday. Only every other hour. Then at 14:32:20 I heard the computer bell chime. I saw the 'from' address. The Writer's Conference had sent a message. Oh boy, the subject line read "Retreat Notification". I knew it. They had forgotten which day to inform me. My heart skipped several beats and I opened the message.
It began: I regret to report that your synopsis and manuscript were not selected for a writer's workshop fellowship. Whoa, that just can't be. Not selected? Surely they had placed my name on the wrong list. They would be sending a frantic correction with deep apology that an error was made. I would be magnanimous. No problem. Everyone makes mistakes. What do I have to bring with me?
I read over the rest of the words. No mention of being chosen as an alternate. What if someone dies? I volunteer to take their place. Not even an alternate? The knife twisted in my back.
Yeah, sure, you are most appreciative of my interest in the fellowship. That's what you wrote. Oh yes, you want me to apply again next year. What for? You can't recognize good writing when you see it. Why should I go through all that effort and be disappointed again?
I stuffed my pride back into the cubby hole where it usually resides and told all my friends that I didn't make it -- again. Nope. Not even an alternate. No, I wasn't too devastated. I'm lucky not to have the dream .357 around, but I'll get over it.
I have a great idea for my next entry. There will be no chance they can't recognize my worthiness. I just hope my computer doesn't go down before I receive their acceptance e-mail next year.