Friday, November 27, 2009

Meeting My Goal

Sometime in January of this year, I resolved that, in order to further my interest in writing, I would  submit a short piece of fiction to the annual Prairie Fire magazine writing competition.  The deadline for submission:  November 30, 2009.  Thus, in spring, I wrote a partial first draft of a story which I intended to complete, edit and have ready to go in plenty of time.  Unfortunately, long before I finished the first draft, I became disillusioned with the whole thing and gave up on it.  I decided that I could always enter the competition another year.

And there the matter stayed, throughout the remainder of spring, all of summer and most of fall...

...until a month ago, when I realized that it was really bothering me that November 30th was fast approaching and I hadn't even tried to finish my story.  It had been haunting me so much that I finally decided to give it a last ditch effort.  So, for the past few weeks, I have stolen a few hours here and there to sneak off to the millenium library or to a nearby Starbucks to work on it (with my old, decrepit computer!).  At first, the story kept growing so much that I thought that I was never going to make the deadline...or the word count maximum of 10,000 words.  At its largest, the story was over 20,000 words long (about 50-60 pages).  At that point, panicking a little, I realized that if I wanted any shot at submitting something, I needed to start chopping and refining.  That was a surprisingly painful process, as I had to cut out many large sections that I'd actually felt pretty good about.  But it was necessary, and the end result was better anyway.

I finished my story (using my new computer!) on Wednesday, and hand-delivered it to Prairie Fire on Thursday.  When I handed it in, I felt like a character in a movie, holding grimly onto the envelope while someone attempted to take it away from me.  I felt very vulnerable handing over a piece of myself and opening myself up to the eventuality of someone deciding that it isn't good enough.

The final story was just under 9,000 words (29-30 pages double-spaced) and is called Quickening.  It's a story geared primarily towards a young adult audience, and is about a young woman who finds herself falling in love for the first time with her brother's best friend - it is set in the Long Beach area of Vancouver Island.  I have no illusions about the grandeur of the story or the writing - I am not going to win this competition, or even come in second or third.  For me, this was about finishing something and about doing something that I had decided was important to me.  I am proud of myself!


  1. Good Work. I would never have the patience for that.

    I started writing short stories back in high school, and always had the same theme... some poor schmuck playing hockey, gets noticed by some NHL scout and heads on off to the big leagues... It got boring after a while :)

    Now, make sure that you don't write too many such items, cause it might keep you from posting here, and that is NEVER a good thing ;)

    Congrats on the story.

  2. Thanks Sheldon - it feels great to have actually accomplished a goal! I woke up yesterday morning with the first line of another story in my head, but I'll try not to let it distract me from blogging!

    Maybe you should re-create that old hockey story...was it based on personal experience??