One minute of something. Only about 100-150 words. Even I could do that. No news is good news is a lie I told myself until the bad news arrived: Brevity politely told me my submission for the One-Minute Memoir Podcast was rejected. A few months later I let the email announcing the winners’ podcast just sit there for a few days, unopened.
Although I am by nature the most upbeat and optimistic person you’ve never met, today I am in a funk. I am a frustrated parent after an argument by text with my adult daughter. It upset me so much I decided not to go to the beach and instead bought toilet paper at BJs, dealt with the cat litter and did other things to punish myself. By mid afternoon it was too blazing hot to go outside, the day was wasted, and I was annoyed. So I decided to make my bad day worse, waste more time, by listening to the podcast. Rub it in that there are much better writers than I. Kick myself when I’m down. I secretly hoped they would all be bad, revealing Brevity as poor judges, and also hoped listening would reveal, without too much pain, exactly what was wrong with my submission.
In the first half of the podcast, host Alison described the process, the submissions and the factors considered in choosing the finalists. Of course they eliminated ones that weren’t memoirs, one that were poorly written, ones that didn’t move the reader. I brought up my memoir while I listened and confirmed that, in theory, I was still in the running. So far, so good. Then, the nitty-gritty: bad ending sentences. Confusing beginning sentences. Some needed to just be tweaked. (Did you mean mine?) Some needed to be trashed. (Was that mine???) What about my piece? I had to know! My husband interrupted and I paused the podcast.
When I resumed, the reading of the winners’ submissions was just beginning. I listened to them all.
Oh. Now I see. Hand to forehead. I Google the word memoir: “…..selected anecdotes or memories from your life to support a theme and make a point.” No wonder I had so much trouble writing that piece – I wrote a 150-word autobiography. So today I find that not only am I a bad parent but also a bad writer and just a dope. (But seriously, you try writing an autobiography in 150-words. Go ahead, try it.) And I thought today couldn’t get any worse. I’m not only down and kicked, but somehow standing on my own neck.
A few bright side items: Because I didn’t go to the beach I am not sunburned; I am in air conditioning; I have ample toilet paper; I wrote this, for what its worth. But my daughter just texted that she has embarked on her three-hour drive to my house. So we can argue in person. Great. Seems like listening to that podcast of some really good writing will turn out to be the highlight of my day. Thanks Brevity. (P.S. Please tell me: if the contest had been One-Minute Autobiography, would I have nailed it?)