So I get this return envelope today from one of the contests I entered, sponsored by a literary magazine called Permafrost. My thinking in entering this one was that, since they are published in Alaska, and the prize isn't as lucrative as some of the other contests I enter, I might have a better shot. But my heart sank as I took in the fact that a) they used my return envelope, not usually a good sign, and b) the envelope obviously was thick enough to have my story inside.
I opened the envelope, and looked at the cover sheet with contest results printed on it. Lo and behold, there I was, runner-up for the Midnight Sun Fiction Contest, for my story "Literacy," possibly the most obscene short story I have written so far. Maybe risque is a better word. In any case, when you have detailed references to masturbation, pornography, and spelling bees in the same story, I suppose it's bound to attract attention. (For any fellow Mills alums reading this, I wrote the story in Ginu's class, which should explain some things...)
What I'm confused about now is that, other than a handwritten note of congrats, there was no indication of whether they will be publishing my story in the upcoming issue or not. It said that winners--i.e., the First-Place winners--will receive $100 and publication, and on their website it also says that all entrants are eligible for publication. But they sent the story back. Does that mean no publication? Does it mean they will publish it and don't need my stinkin' hard copy? Should I now send a note to the other contest I sent this story to, saying, "Um, I got runner-up in this other contest so I think maybe they're going to publish it but I'm not sure"? I have to do something. I guess I'll go for the vague note and be truthful, as is my style in general.
In any case, I'm pretty happy about this, actually. It gives me hope that I'm doing the right thing in terms of trying to write enough loosely similar short stories for a book-length manuscript. And maybe I'm good at being risque, which is an interesting thought. Though honestly, I wasn't intending to be risque--more a combination of funny and "eww."