The theme of this year’s MOSCBWI conference was “Follow Your Dream”—quite appropriate for a bunch of writers gathered together hoping to absorb every bit of writerly inspiration available to us in a mere two days. It seems to be a pretty logical conclusion that if you are a writer, you must also be a dreamer. We were definitely in the right place.
Before the conference, there was a contest. Let me just say right here and now that I do NOT enter contests, especially those that require me to put my writing out there for human beings to read at their leisure. This opens me up to all sorts of things like, oh, I don’t know criticism, public mockery, billboards along the highway that other more conscientious writers have taken out in order to warn people about my lack of writing prowess, nightmares, cold sweats, and possibly even anxiety-induced death.
However, something came over me one day before the conference. It was probably one of the innocent-sounding emails that made the contest sound fairly painless. It was something like, “Hey you guys, just send in something about following your dreams, no stress, no mess, and you might win.”
As it so happened, I had been working on a very short piece. (The requirement was 500 words or less, I believe.) So I began a vicious slashing process that left my work in a hacked up mess, but I eventually ended up with something I felt minorly-ok-ish with. (I know, that is a resounding vote of self confidence right there.)
I took a deep breath, considered telling my doctor all the reasons why I might need to be on anxiety medication, realized I was just being a bit of a bridge-troll writer, re-read the thing one more time, and hit send.
It was the VERY FIRST writing contest I had ever entered. (Well, of my own free will, anyway. My high school teachers forced me to enter some contests, but that totally does NOT count.)
And did I win? I did not.
But did I win runner up? Yes, I did! I got a letter that my runner-up status had earned me a seat in the Sunday SCBWI workshop with the amazing Krista Marino. Woo Hoo!
Without further ado, here’s what I wrote. Please do not take out a billboard along the highway so that you can point out what is lacking. We writers are very fragile and somewhat troll-like.
How to Catch a Star
Savannah Banana, all freckles and knees
and elbows and curls as big as you please
had one little thing she simply must do—
Catch her very own star (or possibly two)!
Each night she waited for the moon to appear
then said to herself or whoever might hear,
“Next come the stars and they’ll twinkle all night!
Nothing down here has a sparkle so bright!”
From the time she was little, from the start of day one,
Savannah Banana sought adventure for fun.
A dreamer, a jumper, a runner, a climber—
Little Savannah was a one-of-a-kinder!
But how in the world would she catch her star?
How would she get from down here up so far?
She pondered and thought and wished really hard,
But wishes alone couldn’t get her that star.
She’d need some tools and a whole lot of gumption,
a magical rope, and her dream would be spun!
When the coast was clear and the time was right,
she’d gather her things and plan her flight.
With a whispered wish and her eyes closed tight,
Her rope came alive on that magical night.
She’d dreamed up a rope that would leap with her throw,
one that glimmered and shimmered with a star-sprinkled glow.
Then she climbed through the branches and never did stop,
right up her tree to the very tip-top.
She perched on a limb that shivered and quaked
and thought for a moment, had she made a mistake?
But there was her star! It sparkled just right!
It was her very own, and she’d get it tonight!
She unfurled the rope, tied it ‘round in a knot,
looped the end in her hand, and took her big shot.
Quickly and bravely with a flick of her wrist,
she tossed her rope with a magical twist.
It sailed over treetops and past houses afar,
way past the moon and straight for her star!
Her rope glimmered in the night.
It curled and it furled through the stars so bright.
And then as it sailed through the sparkliest sky,
it searched for her star that was hanging so high.
And then she caught it! The rope hung on tight!
Her star twinkled brightly in that lit-up night.
She readied her feet and got set to climb—
For at the end of that rope, she knew what she’d find.
With a quick little yell, Savannah leapt from her branch,
all excitement and laughter and grins at a glance.
With her rope in her hand and her feet set to swing,
she climbed so fast, it was like she had wings!
And now every day she climbs to her star
where she can see everything, both near and far.
She kicks her feet high and smiles as she swings
for she knows that her star gives wings to her dreams.