Saturday Steals: Making Up Time

Hello, and welcome to another rousing round of Saturday Steals, where what you get is what you see and what you see is cheap or free!

To participate, simply:

1) Steal a steal.

2) Write a post about it on your blog, mentioning that you’re participating in Saturday Steals (you can steal the above image if you so desire), and

3) Add the link to said post to the list at the bottom of this post.


Exactly one year ago I set a goal to enter every writing contest I was eligible for.

I also set a goal to submit my writing to at least ten publications.

I came close, but didn’t quite make it.

Here’s a list of the contests/publications I entered:

Out of all those contests and publications, I didn’t get a single bite. (Well, one contest submission led to an essay being published in a small local magazine back in April, but I never received a copy of said magazine [even after emailing the people repeatedly and being told that they had mailed out TWO sets of copies to me], so I don’t really count that.)

I could have submitted more writing. I could have tried harder, but with school sucking up so much of my mental energy, I felt good about the effort I had made.

It’s just the results I felt crappy about.

Eventually I stopped telling Poor Kyle when I had entered another contest or submitted another work for publication, so I wouldn’t have to go through the discomfort of reporting back in a couple months that my work had not been selected. Which proved to be a good choice because I went on getting rejected.

Finally, after classes were out last semester, almost exactly one year after I set my goal and very little to show for it, I got an incredible email from the professor of my creative writing class. The email read:

Dear Camille,

I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed reading through your portfolio. You have turned the personal legend idea a ‘real boy’ like no other student has before. I think the portfolio is in itself the bare bones of a novel, and you have developed a recognizable voice in all those posts. So the mark is fine, etc, I just wanted to compliment you on the way you made use of the course.

Happy Holidays!

I reread the email at least twenty times. I showed it to Poor Kyle and read it again. I phoned my mom and read it to her a couple of times for good measure. I filed it away into my “Gems” folder, where I put every piece of nice feedback I get. I was floating for weeks.

I still hadn’t won a contest. I still hadn’t been paid to write. I hadn’t been published anywhere noteworthy. But someone with authority told me (at least as I interpreted it) that I had a chance.

I don’t know when an email has affected me so profoundly (which is not to discredit all the lovely emails I’ve gotten from awesome people over my lifetime—nobody get mad I love you all).

And but so I felt rejuvenated, like there was hope, like I could validate my continued efforts.

And then I started back at school for my millionth and final semester, and I’ve been so busy with my five classes and with teaching piano lessons and also with some proofreading/paper marking for professors on the side that I really haven’t had time to do much writing let alone much writing of anything worth submitting anywhere.

And so here I’ve been, in a sort of “head above water” state, not progressing but maintaining which is itself progress in a way, but certainly not getting paid to write anything, but then—THEN—at last—at LONG LAST—I got a phone call.


(Actually it was just a voicemail, the kind that mysteriously appear without missing any calls from anyone. [Which by the way HOW DO YOU DO THAT? There are so many people I would love to leave messages for without ever having to actually speak with them personally. I have got to learn this amazing skill.])

But anyway the origin-less voicemail said this:

Hi Camille, this is so-and-so from the such-and-such writing contest you entered in December, and I’m just calling to tell you that you’ve been awarded third place.

It went on for a while, but all I heard was third place.


No, it’s not as good as first place or second, but I placed. I PLACED! This is the same contest I entered exactly one year ago to kick off my super-awesome-year-of-success, which turned out to be more like a year of really painful failures, but now! Finally! After a year!

The short story I submitted was one I wrote in four hours on the morning of the deadline. I wrote it and proofread it once and then printed it and raced off to get it there in time. I was disappointed in myself for leaving it until the last minute, for not making time to give it a better effort. I figured I wouldn’t win; I geared up for Dear Camille I Regret to Inform You; I was sure I was going to feel bad when I didn’t place yet again.

But I knew that the only surefire way not to win was not to enter. And nothing is more depressing to me than watching deadlines roll by without even trying.

So I entered.

On the off chance.


Of course now I’m kicking myself for not trying harder. Maybe I could’ve made it better and placed higher, maybe I could’ve had my sister read it and give me pointers, maybe maybe maybe—

But no. I am forcing myself to be happy that I placed. Even if I am the worst of the best, it’s still nice to be in the general vicinity of successful people.

First prize won $1,500. Second prize won $750. Third prize was $250, which granted is not as much as $750 or the other, but it’s $250 I didn’t have a month ago.

And since I only took four hours to write it, that means I made $62.50 an hour.

Which financial steal comes really close to almost rivaling the emotional one.

p.s. But you’ll have to come back on Monday to see what I’m going to spend the $250 on. And trust me, it’s even more exciting than this news.


Now it’s your turn! What have you stolen lately?

Add your steal to the link list below. It will be open from now till Sunday at 11:59 p.m.

About Camille

I'm Camille. I have a butt-chin. I live in Canada. I was born in Arizona. I like Diet Dr. Pepper. Hello. You can find me on Twitter @archiveslives, Facebook at, instagram at ArchivesLives, and elsewhere.
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10 Responses to Saturday Steals: Making Up Time

  1. Alaina says:

    YAY!!! That’s so awesome! Congratulations!

  2. jami says:

    camille, that is amazing! I am so happy for you. You know, that I think you are an amazing writer. Every bit as good as dooce. Just publish a really funny book about your journy to and from pregnancy and you’ll be RICH!

  3. Rachel says:

    Congratulations! That’s so great!

  4. Chloe says:

    Congrats Camille!! I’m so proud of you!!
    Way to go! :-)

  5. Ros says:

    Wow! Thats such good news! Well done!

  6. TeamHaynes says:

    How very very cool! I’d like to think this is just the beginning. You’ll look back on this as the first prize won of many. OR you might just win so many someone will ask you…hey, you remember when you won your first? You’ll stop and stare for a while thinking…no…I’ve won so many I can’t remember the first! That would be pretty cool too. I say keep on entering, money is awesome! Especially FREE money! Are you going to put this prize winning writing on your blog? We would all appreciate it for certain.
    I think you’ve inspired me to enter a contest or two. Which ones, I don’t know. I’ll find some. Now that I think about it I almost won a jar of jelly beans for a CHURCH game of adult musical chairs. I would have won if a some visiting lady hadn’t pushed my chair over so I fell on the chair, and then the floor. I should post my bruise pictures. I really did win but I guess that lady wanted those stupid jelly beans more than me eh? Congrats lady and congrats to you!

  7. chelsie says:

    I have a secret for you… I have always been envious of your writing talents. (Call me green with envy if you must.)

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  10. Snappyking says:

    Ok, I just stumbled onto your blog through your sister’s blog, and I love it! You really do have an incredible voice. Well done on your writing accomplishment.

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