Well, here’s an update on my progress for submitting a fiction piece by September14th.
Right after I finished publishing the post announcing my participation, I set to work.
To keep focused, I Googled the five elements of a short story; Character, Setting, Plot, Conflict and Theme. I used these elements for an outline of my short story. For the Character, I wrote out the main characters of the piece and their unique traits. For the Setting, I drew a floor plan detailing characteristics on it I could use later for other scenes in the book. Then I made notes for the Plot and the Conflict. By the time I reached the Theme, I realized that what I had was not going to work for this contest. My earlier statement about how each chapter I had written was a complete short story was unfortunately not accurate. The “individual” story made sense to me but if I gave it to someone else I don’t think it would make sense to them.
I decided I would do a complete overhaul of one particular chapter to make it work for the contest. I sat down at the table with my composition notebook and, well, let’s just say that if my brain was the pen, I ran out of ink. This is not going well.
Woke up, fed my baby, poured coffee, opened my notebook. Three sentences came out of my pen and then I spent the next 30 minutes tapping the table with it and making funny faces at my baby. I spent the rest of the day changing diapers and read a few chapters of On Fallen Wings, by Jamie McHenry.
Every time I picked up my notebook to try and come back to the story, I was unable to put anything on paper. Then the doubt started kicking in.
What’s the point? I’m not going to win this contest. It’s such a long shot. They’ll probably take one look at the story and laugh me right out of the field. Oh wait, I write humor. Okay, they’ll take one look at the story and cry me right out of the field.
Leave it to Gwennie to give me a little pep-talk. As I was lying on the couch watching television she crawled up on to my belly and laid down.
“Momma,” she said. “I love you very much but sometimes you can really be a pussy. Get off your butt and write something, will ya?”
That’s my cat.
I have family coming into town for Labor Day Weekend so I spent the morning running errands and cleaning the house. No time for writing today and that’s okay because I’m not having much luck anyway.
Somewhere between mopping the floor and scrubbing the toilet bowls, it happened. The voice of Dr. Gru/Steve Carell popped into my head and I heard “Light Bulb!” The story came to me and the ideas just came flooding into my mind. I scrambled to finish cleaning and then raced over to my notebook and began writing as fast as I could. Finally, I have something I’m excited about and this idea is different than anything I’ve ever done. In fact, the format is something I never would have considered for a short story but it’s just crazy enough to work.
I’d like to tell you that it’s the most original and unique idea for a short story in the entire history of short stories but, hell, not even I’m that original.
Visit with the family is going very well. As for the writing, it keeps getting better and better with every pen stroke. Light bulbs! Light bulbs! Everywhere there are light bulbs! I’m so excited and proud of this story I’m putting together. It’ll probably end being really lame and the people at Writer’s Digest will probably ask, “Should she be on medication? If not, she might want to consider medication. Shock treatments might be a better idea.”
Honestly, I don’t really care if anyone likes it. I’m having too much fun writing it and really, that’s why I write, for the fun of it.
There is, however, one interesting challenge. Writer’s Digest gives you two options for submitting a story. The first is the easiest, you type it up on the website and click submit, or something like that. The second is more traditional, snail mail. Yes, that’s right kiddies, back in the days before there was Internet, which I sadly admit I preexist, there was actual mail that a postal worker picked up and took to the post office (the place people still go today to send Christmas packages). The postal worker is the person who places coupons and junk mail in your mail box. in case you were wondering.
Returning to my original point, because of formatting issues for my story, entering it online is not going to work. Snail mail it is. Therefore I have to push my deadline up to September 12th. If you take a look at the widget, you’ll see I updated it to reflect my new deadline.
I sent some of the story to my mom who made a couple of recommendations and, since I know she’ll be reading this at some point – Thanks Mom!.
Next up, I’m going to type up what I’ve written so far and then I’ll go from there.