Thursday, April 8, 2010

I Enter a Contest -- Wish Me Luck!

I had hoped to attend the Backspace Writers Conference in NYC, May 27-29. I saw it as a present to myself, since my birthday is that same week. But fiscal realities being what they are, it wasn’t looking likely. Not unless I wanted to give up, say, paying my car insurance or forego city garbage collection for this quarter.

Well, lo and behold, the good folks at Backspace are having a last-minute scholarship contest, and I have 500 words to describe why I want to attend. The terms of the contest dictate my posting said essay here on my blog and also on Facebook or some other social media site, whatever the heck those are. Because promotion is a fact of life. I think we all understand that. (Here's the Backspace link in case you want to check it out for yourself.)

So here we go. Wish me luck!

Why I Want to Attend the Backspace Writers Conference

Back in 1996, my first post-M.F.A. job was as an administrative assistant at a think tank in Washington, D.C. I took it because it met my two criteria for paid employ: 1) it was a low-stress day job that helped me conserve energy to write; and 2) I cannot be around stupid people. I’m allergic to stupid people. They make me break out in sarcasm, which is wasted on them. Which is very frustrating for me. It’s a vicious circle. I have a doctor’s note for it.

Anyway, after three years at the think tank, I was at a cross-roads. Here was I, approaching 30, a stack of rejection letters from literary agents my only sign of progress. That’s when I had that talk with myself. You know the one. MAYBE IT’S TIME I GOT A REAL JOB.

Resigned, I sent out resumes, and soon I landed an interview with a well-respected, well-paying consultant group.

The first round of interviews would be conducted via telephone, and when the fateful day arrived, I had a pleasant chat with the interviewer, who was male (I remember nothing more about him). I’m sure I did well enough. I’m sure I didn’t say anything wrong, really.

We got to the final question, the answer to which was designed to reveal my career aspirations. Which it did.

“What do you see yourself doing in five, ten years? What is your dream job?”

I said, “To be honest…”

Oh, girl, don’t you blow it.

(FYI: my inner she-devil takes the form of a drag queen named Tiara del Fuego, who normally encourages me to do whatever I fancy, especially if it includes tequila, but in this particular instance, Tiara had her heart set on a new wig and a pair of white, patent leather boots -- size 14 men’s -- and she was in no mood for anything that might scuttle her hopes. This new job would have netted me almost double my then-salary. And boots cost money. Don’t judge her too harshly.)

“…my dream job would be to…”

Lordy, no!

“…sit in my pajamas all day…”

Sweet Jesus on a kaiser roll.

“…at my computer…”

I need those boots, girl! My wig is positively tatty!

“…and write.”

Tiara nearly sucked her teeth out of her head that day, and as I recall, the interview ended abruptly. Not surprisingly I did not get the job or even a second interview, and in retrospect, clearly I was torpedoing myself. I didn’t want that job anymore than that job wanted me. I was so disengaged in an office setting as to be autistic.

What does all this have to do with why I want to attend the Backspace Writers Conference? I’d like to attend just to be in a room full of fellow pajama-wearers. People who get that. People who are second only to lighthouse keepers in their desire to be alone to get their work done. Just for a change. Yes, I’d like that very much.

UPDATE 4/16: Alas and alack, I didn't win. I'll have to find another way to celebrate my birthday, I guess. Fortunately, I am both creative and over 21, so I know I'll come up with something fun.