I won a book with my writing!

It’s not quite the same as being published, but it’s the first time my writing has been officially recognized since “On the Flying Trapeze” won second place at the UE Writing Contest in 2010, so I’m pretty psyched. Not to mention this particular contest was held by one of my favorite sites/blogs, Tom & Lorenzo, which I’ve been reading every day for about a year now.

They held a Mother’s Day contest for their new book, Everyone Wants to Be Me or Do Me. Honestly, if it had been a book on style/fashion, I would’ve already snapped it up. But celebrities have never been a big thing for me (I only learned to recognize Rihanna and other major stars by frequenting their site), and the very suggestion of “be me or do me” isn’t something with which I identify.

NEVERTHELESS, I am psyched to have won their book, let alone one of seven autographed copies from these particularly awesome fashion bloggers/TV critics, and I’m expecting to be blown away and shown the foolishness of my initial disinterest. Particularly if they discuss celebrity as a sociological phenomenon, why it exists and how it works — that would interest me.

Anyway, here’s my submission that is one of seven winners. Disclaimer: I love my mother more than anyone else in the world, and I believe she has a hell of a story too, but I knew that Master Dickens has one that’s easier to write about in order to impress strangers. And I’m awfully proud of her, too.

Let me tell you about Master Barbara Dickens, seventh-degree black belt and two-time breast cancer survivor. Let me tell you about this goddamn marvel of a woman from Mississippi, who first tried martial arts in Singapore in the 1970s. You can imagine how welcoming the instructors were of her, and in fact they used language barriers as an excuse to kick her as a form of correction, but you’re dead wrong if you think that discouraged her.

In America, she found a new instructor and trained with him through her fifth-degree black belt, until he ordered her to close a satellite school, refusing to hear any appeals, and she wouldn’t do it. So she started her own school — 22 years ago, still going strong — and ignored impotent letters declaring her stripped of all rank. He blackballed her across the old boys’ club of top-level American black belts, so she found other black belt women in the same situation, and they founded the Association of Women Martial Arts Instructors.

Let me tell you about this woman, born in the Japanese Year of the White Horse. Not the Year of the Horse — the Year of the White Horse only happens once every 144 years. According to legend, centuries ago, all girls born under the White Horse were killed because they were thought to become too strong and domineering toward men.

That’s why our school is White Horse Academy, and she is my inspiration.

I have to admit I felt pretty confident as I wrote and submitted it — well, I re-read it multiple times, dithered about some of my wording (even now, I think there are places that could have been improved), but I thought it would be competitive enough for this particular contest and field of applicants. (Professional writers aren’t the main audience of their blog, I mean, though there are lots of successful and talented people.) But winning has been the highlight of my week.

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