Friday, January 8, 2010

In which I enter a contest on a whim...

...and am chosen as a finalist!

A couple days ago I was reading vital internet-disseminated information (ie, perusing blogs) while at work (no, not while at work...wait, I didn't say that...) and came across a fun contest on Nathan Bransford's blog in honor of the release of his client's book, The Secret Year. The challenge was to write a diary entry or letter (something vaguely epistolary, in any case) in the voice of a teenager.

Seeing as I was at work during the slowest time of year, I thought it would be fun to type something out, and this is what I came up with:

May 5, 1780
Full sun, unseasonably warm

I know it is an awfully uncharitable thing to think, but I cannot be in the room with Aunt Madeleine’s spoilt children for more than five minutes before I start to wonder if Swift’s Modest Proposal could be tested in our household. Perhaps this is why Mother protested so violently to Father allowing me to read modern writings, though I believe the primary reason to lie more solidly in her own inability to read any but the most elementary of compositions. Anyone knows that I am most conscientious to avoid prideful thought or uncharitable comparison, but I cannot escape the fact that my mother not only far less educated but less inclined to education than I. Regardless, I shall be escaping ever the more often to the library to escape Ophelia and Cornelius (are those not the silliest names you can imagine bestowing upon children?) as they will be with us for another fortnight.

Perhaps I am in a particularly foul mood on the subject of those children as it is on their account that I am being kept from the dinner party at the Greenes’ next Thursday evening. Mother thought it a delightful idea that I remain at home and watch the miniature terrors so that Madeleine could attend the party. I protested that my old nursemaid would be better suited to the task, but as she is now the plantation’s pastry cook Mother felt she would be kept too busy at her own tasks to properly manage the children, too. In addition, she felt it would be beneficial to my moral character and maternal instinct to watch them. Maternal instinct, indeed! As though one could feel maternal toward a pair of sticky-handed demons.

It is almost as though Mother knows that Betty Greene has been contriving to arrange dancing after dinner, and to provide her middle brother for my partner. Betty can think of no better amusement than match-making her brothers away to her dearest friends, hoping, I suppose, that she can eventually add us as sisters. It is not that I find Jerome Greene terribly appealing—he is too short, for one, and his red hair does not suit him—but it would be nice to dance for an evening like a proper adult. No, instead I am chained to a pair of prattling, screaming Lilliputians. It seems that everyone around me is permitted some acquiescence toward adulthood—my brother joining the Congressional forces of his own volition, Betty with her little dance parties. I must content myself with books, I suppose.

Just as a lark, really--but I was thrilled to be chosen as one of five finalists from over 500 entries! It was definitely the confidence booster I needed during a very slow winter in the uplift department. Plus, finalists get a query letter critique from Nathan--though I've been using my current query and getting some response, I will definitely appreciate getting an expert point of view.


Jenny said...

Yay, Rowenna! Are you going to develop yours further? I think it's definitely the most creative of us finalists...

Rowenna said...

Hi Jenny--Congrats again! I probably won't develop this particular story any further (though this character/narrator is kind of insistent--she might crop up again!), but I might employ diary entries or letters in future projects, which I had never considered before now. I usually don't write first-person like that, and it was really fun!