You see, there's a coloring contest at the library.
She did a great job of coloring the bird (with a feather that spells READ on its head) and adding her own artistic details of a tree and a bench in the background, as if the read-bird is strolling through a park. Very cute.
But here's where it got scary.
"I'm going to win the contest," she said. "And the winner of the contest is going to get a slip-and-slide, so we'll have a slip-and-slide ... And Anna's is really good, too, so she'll win the younger division and I'll win the older division and we'll--"
"Hold on," I said. "Your picture is great, honey, but you have no idea who the judges will choose. You shouldn't get your hopes up so high."
My eldest shrugged and walked away, which translated: I still think I'm going to win this coloring contest. That slip-and-slide is mine.
I'm glad my elder daughter is confident. I cringe, however, at her over-confidence. I want her to embrace some reality. Find a balance.
And speaking of balance, I need to find it in my writing life, too!
This week I found out I did not win a writing grant I applied for. I didn't even get honorable mention. I also found out I didn't win a writing contest I entered. I didn't even place in the top 25. I feel a little like my daughter holding up her bird picture going, "Hey, what's wrong with mine?"
At the moment my optimism is wearing thin.
Of course I'll keep writing and submitting, because if I start hiding my work, then I've given up.
Even though I'm disappointed, I haven't thought of quitting. Earlier this week I sent off a submission to a magazine and today I entered another writing contest. Both may well turn into more disappointment, but eventually, EVENTUALLY I should be good enough to be published, or at least noted. (right?)
So maybe my daughter's unhealthy optimism isn't such a bad trait. She'll be disappointed if she doesn't end up with that slip-and-slide, but it won't ruin her. It might just make her try harder when the next coloring contest comes around. And that will be a good thing.
We don't give due appreciation to the things in life that come too easily.
What do you think: can over-confidence be a good trait in a writer? Is that what makes us keep trying, keeps us pushing for our elusive goals? Are over-confidence and optimism even the same thing-- two sides of the same coin? How do we make sure our optimism is the healthy kind?
|Totally unrelated: Here's the raspberry trifle I made for our family reunion last week. It was gooey, gooey good. Despite loss and rejection, there's always TRIFLE, so chin up all you discouraged writers out there!