I didn’t make it out of the semifinals for the Podcastle flash fiction contest, and I got waitlisted for Viable Paradise.
I was a reasonable level of bummed, but honestly, that feeling was outweighed by burgeoning feelings of… momentum? possibility? improvement? And maybe, even, dare I say, pride? Making it to the semis is nothing to sniff at, and I’m in excellent, talented company on the VP waitlist. (They tell me that many of the submissions relegated to either of those categories are publishable. Whether I can find a place to publish my submissions is another matter entirely.)
In the face of these (I hesitate to call them failures because they don’t feel like that, though ostensibly, that’s what they are. Let’s go with rejections. That seems more accurate, and it’s good for me to make that distinction for myself.), I keep reminding myself, it has only been about 1.5 years since I started writing seriously, with the aim of improvement and (hopefully) eventual publication. I can see how much better I am now compared to when I began. I’m starting to write things I actually like, things that I believe in. It’s a good and delicate feeling. In MRK parlance, I’m leveling up.
And on the heels of that thought is the reminder that it has been two years since I left medicine.
Last year, this point in time passed without much acknowledgement on my part. At least not out loud. I noted the timeline, of course — I wonder how long it’ll take until July no longer reminds me of radical change. When the heavy heat of summer is no longer associated with the lifting of weight. But I let the month slip by without talking about it last year because I felt like I had talked about it enough.
And honestly, there were still nights when I would startle awake thinking my pager had gone off. There were still mornings when I would wake up and wonder if I had dreamed the whole thing. It still felt new and fragile and a little unreal.
There are days that still feel like that, but they’re far and fewer now. In the weird stutter-skip slippage of time, it feels like a lifetime ago. (Except, of course, for the occasional moments when it feels like it was yesterday.)
I still don’t feel any regret about my decision to leave medicine. I don’t think I will. Even though whenever I think about it (which is, again, far and few now), I do so carefully, gingerly, tenderly, on the look out for any points of pain.
And I suppose there are echoes of pain. Fracture lines that haven’t set quite properly. The anger is fading, though there is still some bitterness. But not about the leaving. More so about the staying for so much longer than I should have. One day, I think (and I hope), I’ll be able to forgive myself for that.