I don't have a college degree that lets people know that I've put in enough hours to earn respect in the writing community. The only things I've ever had published were a couple of poems. I don't usually count these because they were entries in a writing contest that was more of an enticement to purchase the anthology than an actual contest.
I've always felt a little behind, a little out of step. I have lots of ideas, but no one with any real authority has decided that I am worthy of publishing. I can't even find a good editor for my book... and I'm willing to pay.
So I am a little nervous. There are only 30 slots at this particular event. It seemed like such a great idea to begin with. Now I feel like I should gracefully bow out and let someone else who has real talent have my spot.
There's something in me. There's this dogged determination, this will to keep at it. I heard once that sometimes a desire to succeed is more powerful than innate talent. (I want to say I came up with that myself, but I'm pretty sure someone else said it before I did.) Sometimes the little girl who's gangly and stiff ends up being the prima ballerina while the little girl with the willowy, graceful limbs falls behind. What's the difference? One was born with it and has taken it for granted, and the other had to fight for it tooth and nail.
I've been writing since I was about 10 years old. I sat in awe of my father's ability to hold a captive audience. I wanted to be able to weave tales as he did. Of course, his tales actually happened. His colorful experience was the backdrop that brought his stories to life. My life was pretty mundane and boring (at least compared to his). So I had to make up the backdrops, and hope that I could weave in enough conviction to make people listen.
Over time I have learned that my brilliance is lessened (greatly) when I don't give my ideas time to marinate. When I throw a bit of prose out into the spotlight, rather than rehearsing it until it is old hat, it becomes weak and dull.
So now, here I am, headed into the thick of it. I'll once again feel like a child pretending to be grown up. Hoping that they have a chair with extra padding so I can see over the table; wondering if I'll look silly with my feet dangling under the table; hoping that the other "real" authors will be gracious and forgiving when I open my mouth and they realize that I'm comparatively unseasoned. Most of all I look forward to honest feedback. I have steeled myself for their criticism, and hope that I can come away with a few pointers to help me become a better writer.