When I was little, I loved the Miss America pageant. I never wanted to be a pageant girl, but I liked watching all the women from different states in their evening gowns, impossibly perfect women so far from my outdoors kid world. I didn’t want to be them, but I was fascinated by their existence. As I watched, I wondered how the ones who were not chosen felt, forced to smile as the winner was crowned, especially the first runner up. She had to stand there while all the other runners up were announced, hoping she would be the one, and then finally, there were only two. Then she had to hug the winner and pretend to be okay with it, when you knew she wasn’t okay, not at all.

What does this have to do with writing, for the love of Pete? Well, I just found out I am the alternate chosen for a writing retreat in Homer, Alaska. It sounded too good to be true–my own cabin, a stipend! I allowed myself to dream of it. I would finally have a block of time to write, unlike stolen moments here and there. I wouldn’t even have to pay to go there (this is common) except for my airfare. Best of all, I would be back in the creative space I really need. (“Why can’t you just write at home? You have a cabin,” people ask. No..Just No.)

In the Miss America pageant, the first runner up is told she would assume the title if the winner can’t fulfill her duties. That hardly ever happens, and the runner up knows it. I know it too. What fool would break a leg or something of that magnitude and miss this opportunity? Best to move on, and not dwell on how I must have answered the interview questions differently than the winner. Or was it because I already have a book published, and this is giving someone else a chance? Could be. It is impossible to know.

Oh well. I don’t get the crown this time. Maybe next year? I’ll trot off the figurative stage now and regroup. There are those who say a real writer should be able to arise before dawn and make it work. I arise before dawn and GO to work. Time is the problem. So I will keep trying. Maybe next year is my year.