Back in the long ago. Back in the beforetimes….
Specifically, back in 1990, I submitted a piece of writing to a contest. It was a first for me.
I didn’t go looking for the contest, a teacher mentioned it to me. So I decided to send something I’d already written for class. I was proud of my last paper, mostly because I’d gotten an A on it.
I looked at the contest’s different categories: Formal Essay, Short Story, Poetry… In the end I shrugged and I decided to call my piece of writing “Familiar Essay” and sent it in.
I didn’t hold out any high hopes for winning, but since I was a senior, I knew I should start thinking about colleges. And the prize for winning this contest was a thousand dollar scholarship to the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point.
UW-SP also offered something called the High School Writer’s Workshop. If your writing was good enough, you got to skip school for the day, hang out on a college campus, and, presumably, learn something about writing.
The end of the story probably isn’t what you’d expect. I didn’t win. I was a distant runner-up. I was invited to attend the writer’s workshop, but I didn’t go. I can’t remember why, but given that I was a bit of an idiot back then, it’s quite possible that I simply forgot.
I did apply to UW-SP, because if the winner didn’t collect the scholarship, it went to the next runner up. If *they* didn’t go to Point either, it would continue down the line.
UW-SP was the only college that I got around to applying to. Again, I can’t remember why, exactly. But again, it’s safe to say that I probably just didn’t think of it. Or I forgot. Or I was busy watching Twin Peaks and playing D&D with my friends. As I’ve already pointed out, I was a bit of an idiot.
Later on, long after the application deadline had passed, I also applied to UW-Madison. Despite my obvious inability to follow instructions or read a calender, I got accepted there too.
That meant I had to chose between Stevens Point and Madison. Two schools that I knew absolutely nothing about.
I picked Stevens Point for the simple reason that it was 100 miles away. Close enough for a visit home, but not *too* close, if you know what I mean.
It’s strange the little things that shape our lives. The small choices that turn out to be so big in hindsight.
As many of you know, I stayed at UW-SP for nine years, taking classes and generally having a great time. Later on, after I got my Masters Degree, I came back to teach for a while. It’s where I still live.
Two years ago, they let me run the fiction category of the High School Writer’s Workshop. Last year I was the keynote speaker at the event.
And this year, for the first time ever, they’ve added a new category: Speculative Fiction.
(For those of you who don’t know. Speculative Fiction is what academics call Fantasy and Sci-Fi.)
And guess who’s running this new category? That’s right, baby. Me.
So if you’re a high-schooler who lives in Wisconsin, and you like to write fantasy and such. You might want to check out this link to the brochure containing all the information you need to submit something. (Hint: You need your teacher to help you submit.)
The deadline for submissions is Oct 15th.
I can’t say for certain why I didn’t mention this on the blog earlier. It might be that I was busy with book two. It might be that I forgot. Or it could be that after all these years, I’m still a bit of an idiot…
Have a good weekend everybody,