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March 27, 2018: And they’re Off . . .

Early on today, via email (used to be by snail mail), I got word that I was not a finalist in the Alaska Writer’s Guild Nonfiction writing contest. A friend, his name was Marvin Pollard, once told me that the closer one gets to having something accepted, the harder it is to handle the rejection. I have often thought about what he said, it is a truism. And at least in my head, I was sure that I’d win. There were only a small number of entrants in this particular contest, and the quality of work at this end of the world is not all that high. I had read the essays of past winners and was blown away by what then constituted winning material.

There were 35 entrants. The judge’s comments (I think there was just one) were inane – He or she said that the piece lacked tension. Shit, an essay about being stuck in Alaska State Fir traffic is about a lack of tension. And the evaluation form was formulaic. I realized too late that my essay wasn’t going to be well-received by this group of clowns.

So there. It has taken me many years to learn to move on after getting a reject notice. I do wonder (of course) when my time will come, if ever, but I am determined to not dwell on a question to which there is no answer.

Alys and Rainbow next to pallet station compost bins

And now it seems that time spent dwelling on such things is time that is better spent working on my writing. Today, after vet tech class, I headed over to the Fairgrounds to first have Becky, the Alaska State Fair Head gardener take a look at my draft. It was as I was walking in the direction of her office/greenhouse that I hit pay dirt. She had told me that she and her crew compost the post-Fair garden material. I did not think to ask her about compost station particulars.

I had intended to take a photo of the old blue and yellow Alaska State Fair starting gate, which is on the maintenance grounds. I walked over to it and noticed that it is what is being used for compost. This, to me, is so remarkable – what a great use for the old starting gate. This essayistic detail is a gift. I am going to include this photo in the book.

I shared the draft with Becky – she was incredibly gracious – she said it is representative of what we talked about. I was relieved in hearing this – I struggled to find a context for what she was getting at – that being a head gardener isn’t the idyllic job many think it is. I said in the end that after talking with her, that I realized that I was not cut out to be a gardener, but like her, I enjoyed my job, which too involves considerable conceptualization.

But here’s the catch – I met up with Becky in the greenhouse. It was bright, sunny, and warm in there. The crew members were watering plants – it smelled like spring. Of course, right then I was gripped with gardening envy. Only insensitive dolts would feel otherwise. My saying in my essay that I finally had no designs on being a gardener was merely a quick and easy way of wrapping up the piece.

The bottom line is that I no longer have the option of taking up yet another career path. To do this, I’d have to hop off the path I’ve been on for some time. And I don’t have the time to hop back on it. This is called having intimations of one’s own mortality. Phooey. So, my writing about another’s gardening efforts is going to have to be its own reward. The detail of the starting gate as compost station – how to explain to anyone the sense of satisfaction that I’ll derive in including this in my essay?

Next: 87. 3/28/18: A Conversation amongst the Mares

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