Once in a while, I get a newsletter in my inbox with the title, “Winning Writers.” Signing up for newsletters, hoping to find inspiration or at least solidarity, has been one of my coping mechanisms during the pandemic. But I have to admit that when “Winning writers” came my way, it almost felt like a taunt. Most of the time since March 2020 has felt like a long, bleak fallow season.

I have written less, submitted less and had fewer publications than the previous year. I haven’t finished editing my novel. I didn’t get past the $2000 threshold in writing income. (Good thing I didn’t quit my day job). So I haven’t felt like a “winning writer”  some days I’ve struggled to feel like a writer.

But as the dense cloud of the pandemic is getting thinner, I’m starting to measure my wins with a different meter. Getting up, managing to work, keeping in touch with friends and family and then writing a little bit every day, isn’t losing. Exercising, overcoming rejection, participating in workshops isn’t losing.

I didn’t win a Pushcart or get a book proposal accepted, but I did win a flash fiction prize ( The Frances Thomas Memorial Flash Fiction Award) and I did put together a short fiction manuscript that I’ve started sending out. I didn’t get my poems picked up by The New Yorker, but I did win second prize in a haiku contest ( And amidst a stream of rejections, I also received acceptance letters from a few magazines I’d been dreaming of appearing in for years.

Winning is about not giving up and dealing with change the best you can. Winning is about not losing yourself when rejection and hardship comes. Winning is being there for the zoom meeting, even without makeup and on your 100th bad hair day. Winning is cutting yourself some slack so that you can recharge.

I’m writing this as I’m starting to get settled in Oslo. I’ve just started a new company here ( where I’m adding workshops for blocked writes to the services I’ll be offering. It may seem odd to move during a pandemic, and it certainly wasn’t easy to sell a house and buy an apartment. But the pandemic taught us that family is precious, and having an ocean and layers upon layers of travel restrictions between us and close family, no longer felt sustainable. And managing to make the necessary changes when something feels wrong, feels like a kind of win.


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