The Tomlit Blog has a short story competition. Entries need to be in by March 15th. so there’s still time. No cash prize I’m afraid but the winner gets their story published in Tomlit.
I think I’ll chance my arm. It doesn’t look like too many have entered just yet so the odds are good.
Mmm, in fact ignore this post. There’s nothing wrong with increasing ones chances are there?
It was paper clipped together. No, not it, my masterpiece, my pride and joy. Well it was pretty good anyway. No it was good, or was it crap?
Whatever, it was paper clipped together, printed on one side of A4, double spaced with wide margins. Just the way they like. Bit of a waste of paper I thought but what the hell. Probably gives them plenty of space for doodling and writing shopping lists on.
I imagined reams of carefully typed cherished manuscripts being casually stuffed into pockets for the next trip to Sainsburys. Of rubbish bins overflowing outside Tescos with discarded potential Shakespeare’s. No, no. Best not to think of that. It’ll make me overwrought. Not that I’m not already. Clattering away on my laptop half the night, every night, for the last six weeks had done me in; and all the while the sounds of the tenant next door, humping his way through another 5 minute relationship, seeped through the walls.
A lot of people handed their work in on the last day. It was a general theory that the last ones on the pile got read first and the ones at the bottom were ignored through reading fatigue.
There again an opposing theory, Facebook was full of them, saying that the readers / markers had the memory of a goldfish and the last ones would register the most favour as they’d forgotten the earlier works and couldn’t face going back through them.
So that’s it. Whichever way more shopping list fodder.
I walked through the college on the way to literary destiny. It was mild, sunny and everyone seemed to be going my way. It’s strange, but have you ever been going to something important and it feels as if everyone is going there too? I had a wild notion that I’d get to my destination only to be confronted by hoards of people preventing me from achieving my goal.
Perhaps they’re all handing in papers today I mused. Where else could they possibly be going? This is the most important thing in the world to me today, this hour, this minute and this second. What else would you be doing?
I thought of ten thousand entries being handed in and found that un-nerving. Mine would be lost under a sea of paper. I bet they’d just pulp 99% of them and hope no one notices.
Images of countless bin bags awaiting collection filled my mind. I thrust them away. Begone foul demons!
Up the spiral, winding, rickety wooden steps of the old college building I strode. Strangely hurrying as if to dally would rob me of my chance. I’d been hanging around for ages afraid to hand the work in but suddenly it seemed imperative that it be done ASAP.
I neared the top of the landing. Not long now before I could release my work to the world, my baby, my prodigy, my pain in the bloody neck.
I needed to be rid of it. Yeah I love it, it’s my everything but I want it gone. I want my life back. Good or bad for better or worse this marriage is finally over. I divorce you. Get the hell out of my life!
The moment it drops on the small stack of entries I can move on. See people, go to the cinema, stare blankly at the TV. No longer should I be avoided, tip toed around because I’m the “… grumpy arse who thinks he’s a writer”.
I will be a human again. That is until the next time.
One of the administrators was stood in the room when I entered. He eyed me quizzically. If he was also a reader then he was the object that I would need to overcome to win lasting glory.
I gave him my best winning smile.
He gave me a look. One that said, “Well you’re just about to take a part of my life off me that I’ll never get back.”
Well prepare to be vanquished because I’m going to convert you and change your life forever!
I moved to deposit my blood, sweat and tears onto the entries desk.
“Wait! Is it worth reading?”
“Yes … Of course.” I said shyly, uncertainly. I never expected to have to speak to the decider of my future.
“Come on, come on. If you’re the writer and you’re not sure why should anyone bother?”
“Yes I think it’s worth reading.” (As you’ll find out you arrogant prat.)
“Hmm tell me, if the world was about to end and there was absolutely no chance that anyone would ever read it would you still put it on the pile?”
“Ah the voice of a true desperado. Go on then, put it with the rest.”
I did so and turned away almost fainting with relief. After a moments thought though I turned around and said with a clear voice:-
“No, not the voice of desperation. The voice of submission.”
I had a submission rejected for a short story a few days ago. They said the ending was too predictable.
This was a fair point really as it was too predictable. I thought it at the time but I figured it would be okay.
Which is fine. I should have done more at the time. I should have pushed the boat (or thought) out a little bit more.
I’ll have another crack soon and I’ll listen and act on my own criticism before I send it off this time rather than agreeing with it when I receive the identical criticism back.
Don’t you just love these ‘Doh!’ moments?
I’m looking forward to receiving it.
Because, of course, you can never have enough new books waiting in line to be read!
My thanks to Nik for his suggestions.
I would have like to have bought more but my bank manager is already on medication for stress so I thought it was better not to risk it.
Well once again I pen this note to you, my dear bot reader. My trusty subscriber to my witterings.
I haven’t yet embarked on a novel, or even thought about doing so.
Well I need a bit more practice really, so I thought I’d try smaller chunks of writing instead. Maybe it’s lazy, but I hate the idea of starting something that major only to find I’m scrapping the beginning before I’ve even finished the first draft. I might end up writing 50,000 words and scrapping 49,900 of them. I can’t face that just yet. I suppose I’ll have to wield the scalpel at some future point (Errgh!) but for now I’d much rather dump 500 words than hundred times that.
Yeah, it’s an excuse, I think I must be lazy.
So what am I doing?
Well, scribbling a few little poems and having a go at some flash fiction of which I submitted a few pieces in the last few days. So I’ll let you know how it goes on, but don’t hold your breath dear bot, even computers need air!
It takes me awhile to find my feet and I’m still crawling around the floor blundering into obvious objects.
But I’ll get there, eventually.
Practice makes perfect they always say but at the end of the day motivation is also required before you can even begin to practice. There has to be a point to practice and submitting and maybe seeing your work on the net helps to provide the motivation to practice.
So it’s good that there’s plenty of websites out there that can fulfil that need. Two that I found useful (courtesy of links found on Niks great blog) are ‘The Pygmy Giant’ and ‘Rainy City Stories’. They help give focus, for me, to the practice of writing. They both accept stories and poetry but the latter is for stories involving Manchester. The former is shorter (less than 800 words) flash fiction type stories.
The third is ‘Six Sentences’ which does exactly what it says on the tin. A story in six sentences. If that’s not providing focus I don’t know what is!
I think this is good because I can find it difficult to know where to start. Having these preset frameworks provides that starting point. I shall be having a go at submissions for these three sites in the next few weeks.
Now I just need to find the time …