The joy of compliments

I stepped out of my comfort zone this month. Big time. At the end of October I came across an announcement for a writing contest, organised by the local library. It’s theme was ‘Small histories, big stories’. I mulled over the theme for a bit and to my own surprise an idea for a story presented itself. I started writing and within a few days I had it proof read and finished. Then I did something rather unusual for me. I actually sent it in.

Last Wednesday (it’s Friday when I write this) I received an e-mail that my story was selected as one of the nominees. That means that the general public is now able to vote on nine selected stories, including mine. The popular vote is the fourth price next to the jury prices. The jury already decided who they award first, second and third price, but keep that a secret until the public voted as well.

Some years ago I had long conversations with my coach (a well-trained psychologist) about being an introvert entrepreneur. My biggest hurdle to become successful as an entrepreneur was my fear of getting out there. While I wanted to be seen and recognized I didn’t dare to put myself out there. For a solo entrepreneur to be seen, the one thing you have to do is make yourself seen and heard. Ever since those conversations I have been taking baby steps in the world outside my home office. Sending in a short story for a low profile writing contest is one of them.

Since I heard about my nomination the baby steps turned into leaps forward. I recognised this moment as an opportunity to step even further out of my comfort zone and learn from it. Therefore I started contacting friends and family to read my story and vote for me. As I’m no longer a user of social media, the only option for me to reach out to people is via e-mail or direct messages. I sent it to my Random Stories mailing list, of course, but also to my extended family, the new friends I made in Amersfoort, neighbours, Daughter’s teachers, parents of Daughter’s friends. In other words, I tried to reach out to as many people as I could think of to ask them for their attention, their time and their vote. Talking about uncomfortable squared!

Then the reactions came in. One person after another sent me compliments about my story. How they love the perspective I chose for this story, how impressed they were with my writing, that they learned new things about their city, that they felt sad the story ended so quickly (the consequence of the thousand words limit the jury demanded), that they were wondering what my main character would have seen more during that era.

I’m wearing a smile on my face while I’m writing this. I thoroughly enjoyed digging around the history of Amersfoort. I thoroughly enjoyed writing the story, whipping it into shape within the limitation of a thousand words. I thoroughly enjoyed receiving so many positive reactions. Let this be the definitive reminder to my introvert self that reaching out to others results in joy.