I was accepted to the Napa Valley Writer's Conference this summer, and I'm embarrassingly happy about it.
Possibly because it took almost five solid writing classes at SFSU for it to dawn on me that we aren't graded on our writing. This, even though one of my close friends teaches writing at Cal and regularly re-explains CW grading to me.
Basically, for reasons I was about to delineate before it occurred to me mid-sentence that I still don't understand, students are pretty much graded on their ability to come to class, occasionally say something if they aren't too shy, complete assignments on time, and loosely follow instructions. ( Following "instructions" never requires the proper use of punctuation, any basic understanding of grammar, or text formatted in a readable font size or color. Oh, and it's totally okay to use words you don't know without looking them up first.)
All that is pretty discouraging. Apparently, you can get straight A's in writing classes and still graduate, dangling modifiers and mixed metaphors and all. So being accepted to a workshop solely on the basis of a short story I wrote (and, you know, that whole fee payment thing) is way incredible -- it feels like an actual achievement, not just like managing to show up. I've never sent out any fiction before -- and while being allowed to workshop a story is a long, long way from being allowed to publish a story, it's a giant step for me.
When I told my mom, she said, "A book publisher tells a writer, "We love every word of your story." The writer is thrilled. Then the publisher says, "Could you just put them in a different order for us?"