chapter 16 blog
So when I signed on to do this NGHW contest, I knew the first challenge was going to be incredibly hard on me, but man did I screw it up. I'm not even 100% sure my entry qualifies - so there's a very good chance I'll be starting the competition off with a 0 point round. Which is pretty much par for the course in my writing career thus far.
The issue was mostly just bad luck in scheduling, which I knew was going to be an issue when they first told me I was being considered. My trip up North had just been moved forward and I knew I was going to be on the road for a few days in the middle of the two weeks I had for the challenge. In the days before I knew I had a lot of packing to do (and a lot of things to squeeze into the time I had remaining with my boyfriend.) In the days after I knew that I was going to have a lot of unpacking and job-hunting to do. I almost backed out of the contest when I realized that - but I figured I could handle missing or doing poorly on one challenge out of thirteen - even if it put me at a disadvantage.
Unfortunately with my anxiety issues, that's easier said than done.
On top of the scheduling conflict, there was the fact that the challenge incorporated two aspects of horror writing that I consider two of my greatest weaknesses - and when I got the challenge information I was almost entirely convinced I wasn't going to be able to turn in anything at all. When I got within a couple days of the deadline and got my first chance to actually work on it properly, I was almost positive I'd be getting a zero.
Running on almost no sleep I typed up the entry I had scratched in my journal in the hotel room lobby last week and got it edited down - having to rewrite it over and over to even out the structure and make my word count goal. After about a million drafts I finally got a version that (while I was not particularly happy with) I thought should qualify, and I formatted it and sent it in. Then I realized that I misunderstood the challenge completely.
This isn't me. I mean, procrastinating is 100% me - but I'm always very, very careful with contest information and usually with contest entries. I quadruple check the challenge prompts with my outline, send the rough draft out to test readers with whatever information I have, and then spend days editing and polishing my piece. Something like this has never, ever happened to me where I just remembered something wrong and then didn't catch it.
I knew this challenge was going to be rough. I knew I didn't have time to get this first entry up to my usual standard, and I knew that there were going to be setbacks. I just thought I'd be able to do better, and it hurts deeply that I was wrong. The stress I felt initially when I realized I messed up brought on one of the worst anxiety attacks I've had in awhile, and my initial instinct was to quit. I wanted so badly to send in an email, explain that between the sleep deprivation (seriously, I haven't slept more than a couple hours at a time in about a month at this point) and stress of moving cross country I had royally fucked up, and I don't think I can handle being a part of this.
I didn't do that.
I wanted to, and maybe I should have, but I didn't. I knew this challenge was going to be the worst one on me, and even though I messed up - I knew that was probably going to happen going in. Even though it's making me anxious to the point of feeling physically ill, I feel like I can push through it. When I lose points, or have my entry for this round disqualified completely - it's going to hurt. I'm probably going to be a mess that day and feel like a failure. But I'm going to get back on my feet and tackle the next challenge to the best of my ability, because going into this that's what I said I was going to do.
I came here to vent some of my anxieties about this and to remind myself that there's a reason I'm doing this. I don't want it to seem like I'm making excuses for myself - because I do know that I could have done better. It just helps me to document my side of the story, and to have a record of why I messed up, what I have to overcome, and how I plan to grow from the experience.
For the record, I do plan to learn from this, and I'm not going to let it stop me from trying my best in every single challenge that comes up from this point on - and with any luck I'll get a little better with each one. With even more luck, I'll go into the next challenge better rested and in lack of that, at least I'll know what to look out for.
So that's sort of where I'm at today. It's not the best place honestly, but it's not the worst place either. I've been in places so much worse than this.
Thank you guys for reading, those of you who did, I know you're probably not hear to listen to me whine, and I'll be done with that for awhile. It did feel really good to get this off my chest though, and now I'm going to go relax, and prepare myself for the next steps in my writing misadventures. I hope you are all doing well, and that I'm not coming across as overly incompetent - even though it often feels that way.