Sunday, June 11, 2017

William Myrl; Letters to No One (78)

Dear No One,

So there were two envelopes from PEN yesterday. The PEN prison writing contest is something I've talked about before, a national contest open to anyone incarcerated within the last year. It has five categories; drama, fiction, poetry, and they split nonfiction into essay and memoir, which makes five. I submitted to four categories last September, there's about a nine or ten month turn around for these things. 

Any who, first place for my drama submission, second place for my essay. I'm a bit bothered they snubbed my poetry, but I will take the two prizes happily. It's not the most prestigious contest, given the state of its applicants, what it does is pad my resume a little and give me the satisfaction of having won something. It isn't exactly vindication, it feels more as if the somewhat nebulous future me that I aspire to had some tiny piece of itself solidified. There is money as well, they will have to mail the check to my mother and then I will have to convince her to send it to me instead of putting it into the same purposeless though good intentioned account as went last years winnings. I like to pretend I'm self supporting. 

I can only believe that there are fewer drama submissions than in the other categories. Last year that was the Dawson prize (fancy fourth) for me. Both years, my drama scene has been slap dash last minute stuff. I am more prideful of my poetry than any other medium, and yet it is the most difficult market to succeed in. 

Naturally, I'm excited by all this. However, it seems that stoicism cuts both ways. The same filter that allows me to accept failure and mischance all unblinking partially numbs my response to positive turnaround. I waited to open the envelopes, afraid of yet more disappointment, preparing for it. There was something wonderful and fleeting in opening them and seeing that I had won. 

I called my parents and my brothers, told Matthew to update my query letter. My life hasn't changed, I won't have the prize money for several months, and that won't be exactly life changing either. It is a step, a piece of a much larger game. There is always the next thing, the further submissions, hopes to be dashed. I am thinking about next year.

Also, a man was elected as the representative in Montana's only district who is both a young earth creationist and a bully who physically attacked a reporter shortly before he was elected. Thinking about that too.

Hearts and Stars

William Myrl
Letters to No One

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