Winning the CBC Quebec Writing Competition was a near perfect experience. When I got the email congratulating me for making the shortlist, my mom and I jumped, squealed, and danced in her kitchen. Being in the top ten was enough. I was ecstatic.
At the gala in Montreal, I was accompanied by the best entourage.
We showed up fashionably late, too late to get seats, so we perched on a ledge at the side of the room, fluttering with nerves. When they said "And the first-prize winner is..." and called my name, I felt heart-thumping joy combined with a sudden fear that I, unaccustomed to heels, would face plant on my way to the stage. I made it.
There was cheering, kissing, hugging, kind words from kind strangers, and, when we left, a perfect snowstorm of whirling fat flakes that we didn't even feel on our bare legs because we were on fire.
After the gala, I received countless thoughtful congratulatory notes and phone calls from people near and far. The judges' kind comments were published on the CBC website, and the story was published in an anthology by Vehicule Press, and in Maisonneuve Magazine.
The final step was an interview and reading on CBC Montreal’s arts and culture show, Cinq à Six. I was terrified, convinced I would do the vocal equivalent of a face plant. As the day approached, I actually toyed with the idea of politely declining, or, better yet, of hiring a look-alike to do it for me.
In the end, I did the interview. I read the story. I had a great time in spite of the nerves. It helped that host Jeanette Kelly and producer Frank Opolko are such charming and intelligent people. You can listen to the interview and reading here.
Winning the competition was wonderful, but it also had elements that were challenging and uncomfortable. It was those uncomfortable bits, though, that were truly invigorating.