Story A Day September went well. I achieved my goal of writing one story every weekday for a total of 22 stories. Of course, some stink like tortoise poop, while others have potential.
But writing momentum came to a standstill in October. I could not get anything going. Everything I wrote came across blah, flat. I couldn't submit my work anywhere. Nothing I wrote was good enough.
An entry for one of Janet Reid's flash fiction contests had me tearing my hair out (and since I have very short hair, this is a real problem.) I liked my idea but could not for the life of me get it to work. I finally said f@ck it (this is a tortoise friendly blog, people!) and wrote it – fast, sharp, without the usual protagonist and set-up, etc. It was good enough to submit. It didn’t win, but it made Ms. Reid's list of standout entries. Her comments gave me a creative boost and a sense of validation.
Next project – I spent days on an idea I liked, but once written, turned into such a big yawn fest I put myself to sleep. So, again, I said f@ck it (which I really hope is not going to be my new mantra or I'll have to start covering the tortoises' ears.) The new story came together in a day, and off it went to a Crystal Lake Publishing contest. I'm pleased to announce it made the finals!
Both times, I got out of my own way, but more importantly, I got out of the story's way. Sometimes I'm afraid to let the story "go there." To let a twisted protagonist rule. To let an inanimate object own the POV. To let the story roar over the page like a hurricane. To let it slither onto the scene, licking lines with a poisonous tongue.
To let the story lead the way.
Here's my entry from the No One Moves to NY for the Weather contest with Ms. Reid's comments at the end. A list of rules apply, like the 100 word limit and the inclusion of the following words: cold, blue, shiver, sox, fox. I hope you enjoy it!
She is his oxygen. His passion. His obsession. She just doesn't know it. Yet.
He is the shiver down her spine. The shadow sliding behind her on the sidewalk. The sly fox slinking in the woods near her house. The presence she senses but does not see.
He daydreams. His knife traces the cold blue roadmap of her veins. He licks the hot red river it leaves behind.
She pays attention now. Looks over her shoulder. Watches out her window.
He has gotten sloppy. She has gotten ready.
He just doesn't know it. Yet.
Utterly brilliant. It's not quite a story, but this is stunning writing.
Are you standing in your own way, with writing or something else? Or have you in the past? Any suggestions on how keep out of the way?