Twenty-twelve will be a year I won't be able to forget because it's the one where I came out. I didn't lean into a microphone in an airport on a sitcom and tell everyone I was gay like Ellen Degeneres did, but I made myself known. The year started when I joined critique groups, exchanged my writing with others, decided to turn my serialized story, The Ballad of Helene Troy, into a novel, and entered a short story, Italian Radio, in an online contest. After two and a half months of social media hassling everyone I knew and didn't know to vote and promote me and my story, I finished in a tie for fourth out of over three-hundred entries. My writing career was now like Norm and Cliff walking into Cheers. Everyone knew my name.
It's okay if you rolled your eyes at the last sentence. I have a wife and three daughters, including a seventeen-year-old, so eye-rolling is warm and wanted affection to me. I don't consider people on the internet knowing there's a guy named Lance Burson who wrote a story about a mysteriously ill New York Post reporter interviewing and investigating a story similar to the Amanda Knox saga in Italy as being famous. But, I put myself and my stuff out there. You know that stupid mind game people tell you to play before you speak in public where you imagine people in their underwear? Well, I've felt like people have been looking at me in my drawers for the past year and I need to hit the gym harder.
I played sports from toddler age til my early twenties. I participated in leagues where everyone got a trophy, just for trying. I also fought and bled in leagues where second place meant first loser and you got a kick in the gut and trash talked for showing up. Showing people your art is more like being a tackling dummy for an NFL team. You're around. You're on the squad. But no one cares about your injuries or your pride.
Participating in critiques groups and contest are a great test not only for a writer's talent but also a writer's ego. The America's Next Author contest I took part in with Italian Radio was more about organizing social media contacts, being diligent in reminding people to use their mouses for more than porn, and letting your shameless, miniskirted whore walk down the information superhighway, than the judge of skill. I believed in my story, a 1500 culled piece of something that's actually 10,000 words scheduled to be published in February. But I held no delusions that it was worthy of Poe, O Henry, or Hemingway comparisons. Italian Radio was me dipping my toe into the Mariana's Trench of writing notoriety. The water was warm and I made some terrific contacts a few friends.
As I wait for my first novel and short story to be published, I'm grateful to my usually frazzled nerves for putting me out in the woods for the Big Bad Wolf to tell me i sucked, was good, or whatever was typed in between as a response to my pieces. What I did with my writing in 2012 wasn't South Gwinnett Little League tee-ball in 1975 where I got a medallion for keeping my fingers out of my hose and my gloved on the right hand. But it also wasn't University of Alabama club football where I got a separated shoulder, my hand spiked, and a request to not come back for a second season in 1989. It was me coming out and telling people, including other writers that I'm here, I'm not Shakespeare, get used to it.
My entry for Ameriaca's Next Author that finished in fourth place: http://www.ebookmall.com/author/lance-burson
The Ballad Of Helene Troy coming soon from Pound Publishing
Here's some REM: