Monday, February 1, 2016

Affirmations From Your Underwear


This morning I grabbed a pair of underwear from my drawer (I refuse to use the dreaded word that begins with a p) and pulled it on. I glanced down, though, and read the words printed into the waistband:


Yes. I've written about this particular underwear before, but not enough can be said about synchronicity and underwear affirmations.

So much can change from one moment to the next.

I spent many weeks procrastinating on submitting my manuscript to the Graywolf Nonfiction Prize, but over the weekend hunkered down for many hours getting not only the manuscript but also the cover letter and overview ready. All of this was done even as I prepared and had my Books & Bakes dinner on Friday night, took care of the Soph, counseled, cooked and otherwise kept in line The Two Teenagers and did some editing for My New Job. I know very well that I have far too many frying pans on the fire, and I fear that I am doing each thing in a slipshod way (remember my botched Hungarian dessert?), but I was determined to enter MGDB* into this contest, namely because it was for unfinished manuscripts and would force me to put some order into the thing. I confess to hating the whole "structure" thing and have fantasized about someone like Mary Poppins descending from the sky and landing on my back stoop to take the book in hand and just -- well -- tell me what to do and make it a book. The Graywolf Nonfiction Prize takes submissions every other year, and one of the requirements is that the book is NOT finished. This seemed perfect to me. I have an overview and many, many pages, but I also have this structural problem that will take some wrestling, and maybe, just maybe, I'll win the prize and then my troubles will be over.

At 10:05 pm, Pacific Standard Time, I finished typing out my overview and went to the Submittable page.

It was closed.

I had missed the deadline because I live on the west coast and didn't bother to think of the time difference! I let out a blood-curdling scream, stripped naked and ran with the coyotes that lurk in my neighborhood and eat miniature dogs.

In all seriousness, I was if not devastated, then feeling crushed and, frankly, idiotic. Why had I waited so long to submit it? I went on Facebook and wrote a pathetic status update, asking for violins. I got plenty of them, but I also got a couple of wise suggestions to email the folks at Graywolf and tell them my story of woe.  I took the advice and included a screen shot of the Submittable page that said the contest was open January 1st through the 31st. Then I watched three episodes of Downton Abbey, contemplated why some people have the balls to date online and some people think only of Looking for Mr. Goodbar and that scene where the Richard Gere character is chasing the woman around the room, all drugged up, and then I went to bed, crushed.

I woke up this morning resigned that it's all for the best, it's not like you're going to win, anyway, there's probably a better thing to submit to, maybe your good friend will win it which will be almost as good as winning it yourself  and at least you finally did an overview and are one step closer to wrestling the thing into shape.

Then I grabbed the underwear.

Then I read my email.

Dear Elizabeth, 

Thanks for your email. The prize closed at 12 midnight CST. Since that wasn’t clear on the website, we’ll let you submit your manuscript. If you’ll go ahead and email me the required materials in one file, either PDF or Word doc, then I’ll add your submission to the nonfiction prize in Submittable. Once that’s been done, you will receive a notification from Submittable that it has been entered.


I let out another bloodcurdling scream, stripped naked and ran through the neighborhood with a palm frond that had fallen in the hurricane-like winds we're having this morning in one hand and my underwear in the other.


* My son, getting ready to leave for the Winter Formal at his high school on Saturday night. A sight for sore eyes, for sure.

**My God Da*&ed Book


  1. Can't stop laughing.....I needed that! Congrats and go get 'em!

  2. Love this post.

    Am thinking you need to send Henry to a modelling agency to make millions and keep you in happy underwear.

  3. My underwear just says, "Jockey." I think I need a change of brands.
    This is the best story ever.
    And Henry? That boy is one fine looking young man.

  4. clearly, I don't have the right type of underwear.
    PS so glad about the time-zone flexible deadline, good luck!

  5. ps. Henry is dangerously handsome.

  6. Nothing like a last minute reprieve, Elizabeth. Now to win the prize, or at least get close.

  7. Hooray! for the underwear and the second chance, and the kindness of others when we need it the most. Good luck and I hope you win, and if you don't I hope it's your friend who does.
    And yes, Henry is stunning.

  8. Let me know when you want to run with those coyotes. I'll drive over.
    But yeah, big gigantic HOORAY!

  9. Yay! Never hurts to give a longshot a shot. Fingers crossed that you will win it. I want all your troubles to be over. Really, I do.

  10. So THAT'S what that noise was in the street! I have a feeling you're going to win.

  11. excellent outcome. Excellent underwear. Handsome handsome son.

  12. I know you're going to win. I know it with all my heart. And I was in the same room as Henry.

  13. What a fantastic and wonderful story. I think you will win!

    And Henry....Bond. James Bond. Get that boy an agent!

  14. I'm very glad you were able to submit it after all:)

  15. That was the best gasp I've had in a long time!!

    And Henry? Watch out world!

  16. I too let out a gasp and an, "Oh, no!" So glad this worked out, PST be damned.

  17. As a fellow "watcher for signs and synchronicity" I loved this story.

    Your son is so handsome!

  18. Love this happy ending, may it get even happier. Graywolf Press rocks! x0 N2

  19. Hip hip...
    Good luck girlfriend!!!

  20. Thank goodness for happy endings. I think you should title it MGDB (not the initials but the full phrase). It would definitely sell.

    So if you win, WHAT do you win? Organizational assistance, or money to underwrite your work, or a publishing deal or what?

    Henry really could model. If you ever need an additional income stream, he's your man.

  21. Yes! Good omens! I hope you win!!! You certainly SHOULD.

  22. I'm so happy for you. It's great to hear a surprise happy ending; they're too rare. And Henry is just a knock-out but looks indifferent to the fact, which only enhances it.

  23. I'm late ..for the time zone and my busy work time! But I'm so honored to wish you the best!!!
    And I'll show Henry's picture to my teenager sons, maybe he can inspire their look! How handsome he is!



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