Doesn’t it always happen this way? I’m editing full speed ahead. My current novel is at page 150 of 256. The quality and completeness steadily grows. Then wham, I’m hit in the head with other ideas.
I recently experienced three short, interesting snippets of life. One happened Sunday at church, the next happened somewhere un-remembered, but I wrote it down, and the third happened while writing to a prompt during Wednesday’s writing group. I do not want to explain them, but they all involved a person who didn’t fit, an awkward, imaginative oddball kid. I felt the relationships, and I recognized three as the magic number of events, so I quickly whipped up a short story using all three.
Actually it flowed really well and I liked the voice, but the main theme escaped me. I ended up with the person being an adult in an adult situation, but his situation did not tie into the events.
Yeah, so I sat on it for a couple of weeks.
Last Sunday I was at church again — it’s a great place to get ideas. I think it is a mood thing. It is a very introspective service, loud rock music and meaningful sermons. Ha. I’d met a member and her daughter a day or two earlier in a café. Cute little thing. So was the kid. Anyway, I saw the kid again Sunday and watched her while the band played. The story grabbed me by the throat, choked me, and threw me down on the cheap tiles. Good God, I thought, can I write that?
I did the next morning. 4500 words. I brought it to my writers group Wednesday and had two confidants edit it for me. I re-edited it Thursday, and took it in town Friday to edit it again. Let’s just say it is about a little girl who prophecizes — is that a word? I am not a religious person, and I listen to the gospels with a writer’s demeanor. Curious stuff. I sat at Starbucks with my wife, and I told her I had this story I didn’t want her to read, at least not yet. I said I needed someone who is intimate with fundamental, right wing Christianity, someone who understands prophecy, but someone who can read it objectively and not take offense. Oh, there is excess reason to take offense, if it offends you that is. I’ll say no more. She suggested someone we had just met, an ex-minister who had apparently sinned so greviously that he is now selling cars. Must have been a doozy, eh? I thought he sounded okay, but then suddenly my revelation appeared. Across the hall of the mall I saw Dan. Not my coffee shop Dan, but a real Dan. He is Jewish, educated, introspective, philosophical, and a friend. He fills in leading the local Rabbi-less synagogue and is considering publishing a book of his essays he has used. His idea is to make it available to the multitude of Rabbi-less synagogues around the world for free. He sat down with us, my wife left, and I asked him about prophecy. Wow, he talked for twenty minutes straight and he left with a copy of my piece. He had to read the first paragraph first, though. I am happy to say he really wanted to finish it.
So this weekend I’ve edited them both, and I edited the first story again this morning. I sat out on the deck and read it to the cats. The few errors I had left jumped out, and now my dear wife has a copy. There are a number of contests with April 30 deadlines, and I am seriously considering submitting this story. This begs the question, though — what is the lifecycle of story marketing? I’m thinking contest or contests followed by major literary journals followed by minor literary journals followed by maybe a zine? Is it alright to submit to multiple contests? What do I do when Joe Blow contest gives me an honorable mention? Do I then tell Tom Howard I no longer wish to qualify? Oh to have such a problem!
Wish me luck.
Tom Howard/John H. Reid Short Story Contest