During the first part of this year, I entered a bunch of contests covering the different types of storytelling I enjoy: film festivals, a script competition, short story contests, and various programs based on the first chapter of my novel. In some strange convergence of cosmic coincidence, all those contests notified their entrants this past week. Email after email landed in my inbox: We’re sorry to inform you, but . . . . It got to the point where I was doing a Pavlovian cringe each time my email dinged with a new message, dreading the next rejection.
But in the middle of all that, I got a phone call. An amazing phone call. The best phone call of my writing life to date. Possibly the best phone call of my life period (although some of those calls from boys in high school were pretty darn exciting).
It was SCBWI calling to tell me I’d won their Work-In-Progress Grant for Contemporary Novel for Young People.
Now that’s a mouthful to say, so let me break it down for you: SQUUUUUUUUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!
Ahem, what I actually meant to say is that SCBWI stands for Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators
, and every year they award a number of grants
to help writers and illustrators complete a specific project in order ‘to encourage continuing excellence in the creation of children’s literature.’ And based on the first chapter and synopsis of my WIP, they picked my novel!! It’s currently called The Drama Queen Who Cried Wolf
, although its previous title was The Hunt
I couldn’t believe it. I think I asked versions of “Are you serious?” and “Are you kidding me?” at least four times before it finally sunk in. And then this happened:
I turned into a ridiculously happy, sobbing mess. I’m not even sure what happened during the rest of the phone call. Immediately afterwards I tried to tell my parents, but I was crying so hard they thought someone had died.
Pretty quickly, though, the tears turned into this:
It’s been over a week since I found out, and I still have to restrain myself from running around the house flailing my arms when I think about it. I couldn’t share the news publically until the official announcement from SCBWI, but it’s now officially official: click here to see that I didn’t imagine it
I’m actually relieved to see it in black and white – a part of me was worried it was a fever dream or a trick of my overactive imagination brought on by too many rejections. Another thing that made it feel amazingly real? The check arriving in the mail:
I can’t thank SCBWI enough for organizing such fantastic grant program – huge cheers to everyone involved. And I’m so grateful to the judges who saw promise in my project and selected me. It’s been a wonderful boost to my writing confidence at a point when I really needed it. Also, I’m sending giant-crushing-thank-you hugs to everyone who has advised and supported me through the endless honing, revising, and tweaking of my first chapter – it made all the difference. Thank you!
And now I’m off to plan my Caribbean vacation. I’m kidding! Maybe.