At the tail end of last year I threw a flurry of stories to a number of competitions, because why not? This week I heard that my dark drama, More Than a Wednesday Girl, has taken third prize in the Wenlock Olympian Society Short Story Contest.
I also got a nifty bronze medal delivered today, which is probably the best thing about the whole experience. And on top of that there’s a Zoom call (Covid’s best friend) later this month to present the prizes to the winners, so that should be fun.
Should you care to, you can read my story (along with the gold and silver medalists) at the link above.
My short story, When the Bleeding Just Won’t Stop, is now live at Bare Back Magazine… although I would advise against going there if you’re a child, or in any way prudish about sex.
This story started life as a simple sex scene – mostly as an experiment to see if I could write one. I find that descriptions of the act itself, in fiction, are usually boring and inconsequential to the plot, and in that way they have about the same importance as characters going to the bathroom, and you don’t often read that on the page. Of course, sex is more titillating than the toilet, so I understand the appeal.
Once I got into writing the sex scene, I started wrapping a story around it and developing the characters, and then the whole thing took off from there. I think it’s a good story, and a thoughtful piece of erotica that has something to say.
Check it out if that kind of thing takes your fancy.
January has been a long month, as it usually is. But, at the very least, it has got off to a positive start with my writing.
Earlier this month I had my first short story acceptance since 2015. I’m not greedy, but that’s an extremely long drought for me. I don’t really know why either. Sure, I’ve written less in the last few years, but I’ve still been putting my work out there. Either my standards were getting too high or my writing just wasn’t hitting the spot anymore. Maybe it was a little of both.
Either way – to keep the metaphor going – I’m glad I’ve finally found some water. The story should be going live online in March, and I’ll talk about it more closer to the time.
In the meantime I’ll just keep on writing…
It’s finally done. All of my writing (going back as far as I can) is now printed and filed, and all of those folders are dated and looking rather cool atop my bookcase. It’s nice to have everything there – primarily as a back up in case my laptop dies and can’t be resuscitated, but also as a cool visual, and a tangible history of my work.
Now there’s no real excuse not to be getting on with the new stuff.
A couple of weeks ago I had an idea for a dark story about Alexa. You know, Amazon’s virtual assistant. It just seemed to hit me, although I don’t know where it came from. Anyway, I ended up doing a lot of the legwork while I was sitting on my two day training course… which was handy, because since then I’ve not had the time or energy to actually begin writing it properly. I’ve got some free time over the weekend, so hopefully I’ll get something done then.
Several of the writing contests I entered in September close today, so if I’ve placed in any of those I’ll likely hear about it in the next couple of weeks. Even making a shortlist would be nice as it’s been a while since I’ve had any competition bright spots.
Fingers and toes crossed.
It took a long time, but I finally finished printing out all my stories in May. There are a few stragglers – a couple of drafts that for whatever reason I don’t have saved on my laptop, and anything I wrote before I was thirteen or so. But everything is there that should be…
…including all the mistakes I have made over the years. The poor grammar, the missing apostrophes, and my god the flowery language. If there was an opportunity for me to say something in three words you can be assured that I chose to say it in thirty.
The funny thing is that I distinctly remember thinking the more convoluted I could make a sentence, the better a writer I was. The density of the prose is what makes a story sing, right?
It took me a while to get out of that habit – years, probably. Sometimes I catch myself circling that literary drain again and I’m reminded of that teenage writer who thought there was nothing better than the flourish of his own pen.
I was going to take a few examples and slot them in here so you could see what I’m talking about, but once it’s out there online, I can’t take that shit back. So you’ll just have to take my word for it.
Now I just have to organise what I’ve written, and I can concentrate on the new stuff.
Word count – 5,300
The Woman in the Room is a dramatic tale about a man dealing with his bed-ridden mother who is dying of cancer, and his struggles over whether or not euthanasia is his only option.
Back in the late seventies this was likely a much more controversial narrative thread than it is these days – not that readers are blasé about euthanasia in fiction, although to some degree that is probably true – but this story simply lacks the punch that I think it once did.
The Woman in the Room is the last story in Night Shift, and unfortunately it is probably not the final kick to the gut you are looking for or expecting from King. It’s a perfectly serviceable tale, just not a particulary memorable one.
Unfortunately my short story More of a Wednesday Girl didn’t place in that contest that I was waiting for at the end of February, but I’m all right with that. It was nice to be shortlisted, seeing as it has been so long since I’ve even been that close to success. And more chances will come my way, I just need the right story and the right judge looking at it.
Obviously, the coronavirus has been all-encompassing this month, and rightly so, but the downtime at home has given me (and will hopefully continue to give me) the opportunity to catch up with some writing.
I finished a short piece called Paid in Full, in Plastic, which was a lot of fun and turned out quite well. It’s the fifth tale I’ve completed in 2020 and the 100th short story (upwards of 1,000 words) I’ve done since I started keeping detailed records of my writing exploits in 1995 – some of which are even pretty good!
It’s nice to hit a milestone like that, and I just hope that the inspiration can continue in these strange and uncertain times.
I’ve written a few flash pieces this month, all to fairly strict deadlines, but that is as much of a challenge as the writing process itself.
Row Boat Resuscitation is a dramatic tale about a sinking ship… although I’m not married to that title. Filling in the Blanks is fiction, but it does take a lot from my experience with my grandma. And Maternity Test is about a teenager’s prospect of meeting his mother for the first time. They are all very short, but they each offer a good platform to jump from.
I’ve started another short piece as well, which will see conclusion over the next couple of days, so I’m looking forward to seeing where that goes.
I also got word that More of a Wednesday Girl – a short story I wrote last year – has been shortlisted in a contest that I had all but forgotten about, which is a nice end to the month. It’s been far too long since I had any competition success, so fingers crossed there.
I’ve come to a decision about Slipwater. I am giving myself until my birthday next year – that’s May 7, 2021 – to find traction with a professional agent or publisher. If I still have made no headway by that time I’m going to self-publish the novel.
I know, I have always been opposed to going down that route. It’s the easy way, right? Any idiot can do that. There are no checks at any point in the process, and certainly nobody to tap you on the shoulder to tell you what you’ve written is trash.
Yeah, I know.
But I wrote the novel for a reason, and it’s good. I believe in it, and I want others to have the chance to read it, and if I have to swallow my pride and do what I swore I never would… then so be it.
Of course, I would much prefer to do this the traditional, tried and tested way, so if anybody in the business is reading this, here’s your chance to get in on the ground floor.
In other news I wrote a dark flash piece called I Am the Cheese. It’s something I put together very quickly – in about an hour actually – that isn’t particularly polished, but has potential down the line once I give myself the room to mess around with it.
I have sent off a few pieces to contests this month. I was going to give myself a budget each month for this, to get me in the habit of sending stuff away, so that may be an idea I can run with. I’ll have to see how it shakes out.
Well, I promised three short stories by Christmas Day but only managed to deliver one by the end of the year. I finished Last Chance Lagoon just in time to close out the year on a high note.
I think it was always going to be the one I finished first, but at 1400 words it’s a little longer than I had originally expected. It’s good – I like it – and I did enjoy presenting it to my captive audience, who seemed quite taken by being the star of the show.
This is my final post of the year, but I have big ideas for 2020. There are many things I want to accomplish in the next twelve months and beyond, and I’m going to get on them right away.
Happy New Year, folks!