Well, I’ve gone and done it. I have entered my first writing contest. A few weeks ago a friend sent me a link to a blog contest from Real Simple magazine. She thought I should enter. I will admit that I was intrigued by the idea. Here is the contest:
Who is the person you are most surprised to be friends with? Maybe it was someone whom you had nothing in common with, someone you’ve only conversed with via e-mail, or someone who started out as more of a rival than a friend. Whoever that unexpected friend is, tell us about him or her.
Enter Real Simple’s Simply Stated Blogger Contest, and you could:
- Join Real Simple editors as a blogger on Simply Stated for one month
- Receive a prize of $1,000
I kept looking back at the site over the next few weeks and couldn’t really decided who I would write about. First, who would let me write about them. Second, what relationship had truly surprised me. After the incredible response to my post, “For Kelly,” I knew exactly who I should write about. Kelly had always been a fan, pushed me to challenge myself, pushed me to accept my passion and admit that I had a gift. She believed in. It felt that she was still pushing me to do more. That she was screaming in my ear “USE MY STORY.” Like she was telling me that if I wouldn’t do it for myself, then she would give me a reason to take a chance and risk criticism. It’s as if she knows that my yearning to share her beauty and grace far outweighs my fear of rejection.
So I sat down to write our story. It was six pages double spaced. That’s when I hit a snag:
Q. How should I format my entry?
A. Posts should be submitted in English at a maximum of 300 words. Essays exceeding this length may not be considered.
Well, shit. I was at about 2,000 words. Apparently I had some editing to do. So I got out a red pin and started marking. I became obsessed with the word count. My final submission was exactly 300 words. I feel like I left out so much of what I wanted to really say. But I recognize that every story has to start somewhere. My fervent hope and prayer is that this is simply the start of telling her story. I hope this can open doors to sharing with the world about her fight against Ocular Melanoma. I hope this opens doors to continuing her efforts to help find a cure.
Here is how the contest works:
Q. What happens once the finalists are chosen?
A. After we have narrowed down the submissions, up to 10 finalists will be chosen and posted on Simply Stated, on September 6, 2011. RealSimple.com readers will then have the chance to vote for their favorite of the finalists. Voting will remain open through September 18, 2011.
I am really hopeful that what I wrote strikes a chord with whomever reads the submissions. The chance to write for an entire month to a National Audience gets me really jazzed. There is so much more of her story to tell. And I would really, really love to give some prize money to her doctors.
Here is my final submission. Keep your fingers crossed, pray, use the Secret, talk to your Gurus… whatever you do in life… use it to help us get Kelly’s story into the finals.
She is blonde and light. I am brown and freckles. She is a mother and teacher. Kids and schools terrify me. She is stylish without effort and I cannot match socks. Kindness shines in her eyes and fight in mine.
She has cancer and I don’t.
I met Kelly our freshman year of high school. We passed each other in the halls but were never close. In our thirties we found each other through my blog. The blog, “Well, I Believe,” is mostly the inane ramblings of a hot mess trying to find her way. Kelly is a loyal reader and avid fan. She reached out slowly with simple comments but we were soon friends. She loves the funny stories, cries in the sad, and the blog helps her cope. That’s how I learned my friend had cancer. She would not let cancer define her. On August 8, Kelly lost her fight.
This is for Kelly:
I believe your laughter reached your eyes unlike anyone I have known. I believe someday a pretty girl with blue-eyes is going to fall in love with Riley’s smile and she’ll instinctively know that it’s yours. I believe in your fight, your heart, your soul, and your grace. I believe you spent your last moments showing how to give. I believe you inspired me. I believe that you believed in me.
I believe you showed everyone around you how to love unconditionally. I believe this will never do justice to how beautiful your soul was. I believe five years with Riley isn’t nearly enough. I wish I’d known when I met you that time is precious. I should have invested more of mine in you.
I believe you changed me.
I believe you changed others.
I believe I am better for knowing you.
In Loving Memory
October 21, 1976-August 8, 2011