Well I did it. I finished a short story. Right now it is in the hands of a friend giving it a once over before I take it to my writing group. I have mixed feelings about the story in general. The subject matter gives it a limited audience, in my mind, although I could be wrong... but that is why my friend is reading it as he travels back to his home. What else is he going to do with his time?
Meanwhile I am trying to finish yet another short story and starting to elaborate on several idea kernels that have been ruminating for a little over a month. Why the burst in energy towards writing? There are several reasons, but only one that really matters. The key reason is that I am done making excuses. To be perfectly frank, I am afraid of failure. Deathly afraid. It is stupid and completely irrational, especially because when I decide to do something I am so involved in a thing that I am almost always successful. It is actually very rare that I fall flat on my face. So why should writing be any different? Even if I don't win a contest I enter (which more than likely will happen a few times), I could still get published in a magazine. I haven't lost anything except the few cents it took to print and mail my entry to whatever magazine or contest. The cost is worth the attempt.
I have friends and a writing circle I can use to help me perfect these pieces in order to be successful. I blog daily which only serves to sharpen my writing skills (WOOHOO! It's like a two-fer!). So really, what do I have to lose except an opportunity? In fact, it is in my best interest to try. So here goes...
Keeping in the spirit of valiantly attempting, I have begun researching writing competitions, contests, and magazines which accept submissions. There are two categories to these things which for some reason surprised me. I am not speaking of the obvious categories like poetry or short story, or even the expected rare contest that is looking to support someone writing creative non-fiction on the American Revolutionary War. Rather I am talking about the broader categories of experienced and inexperienced.
There are competitions that are built specifically for those authors who have been successful in the past year and need a little pick-me-up or who have a body of work they would like to publish in a single volume. I am thinking particularly of a collection of short stories or poems (Incidentally, I have quite a substantial body of poetry I am seriously considering entering in one of these contests. It would be easier for me to enter a collection of poems at this point than it would to submit a single short story. How awkward is that?).
Then there is of course the group of contests which are meant for those who have never been published at all. A number of the competitions clearly stipulate that even if a person doesn't win the competition, their entry will still be considered for publication. Publication is definitely better than nothing. Still, wouldn't we all like to be able to put "Such-and-Such Prize" on our CVs? I would. For some reason I always think of J.K. Rowling when I think of these contests. Her bio in her books references her writing awards. I want that. I want some aspiring writer to blog about the awards cited in my bio on my book jacket. That would mean it had come back around. You definitely know you've made it when that happens. It's just around the corner. I feel it.
So here is the deal. I'm going to write short stories regularly (periodically editing and reading them until I get them to god-like status) and then I'm going to submit them. Several submissions will be made every month of 2011. Several is going to mean 3-4, so about once a week. This includes both magazine and contest submissions for very practical reasons. I can't go completely crazy on the contest submissions because many of them have an entry fee, and it would just get crazy if I entered all of them. Yet, if I could win just a few contests this coming year, and get published several times over, I will have reached my writing presence goal for 2011. Maybe its ambitious, but I have a feeling 2011 is my year to make a splash. I'm crossing my fingers and squeezing my eyes tight. One...two...JUMP!