Posts Tagged ‘short story’

A couple of months ago I entered a short story in a contest held by a newspaper.  At the time, I wrote a post about how, for me, the victory was in the fact that I actually entered; actually put something down on paper, printed it out, and put it in the mailbox.

That’s exactly how I felt.

At the time.

Now it is today.  And today is the day they are supposed to contact the winners.

Today I’m not happy to just celebrate trying.  Today it would be really great to celebrate winning.

For the last few days I have seen the date marked in red on my calendar and wondered why I ever felt the need to make note of it.  I mean really, isn’t that just torturing myself?  Am I not just going to spend the entire day checking my phone for missed calls and/or opening my spam folder more often than is necessary just in case the “you’ve won” e-mail somehow got misdirected?

But then I remember why I did it.

Because I know me.

I know that if I didn’t mark down the exact date, I would spend weeks wondering, and checking, and opening.  And really, wasting a single day is one thing, wasting entire weeks is a whole other story.

And for the last few days I’ve been imagining what it would be like.  Imagining what it would feel like to actually get a call like that.  I know in my head it is a fantasy but for once I don’t really care.  I’m tired of being realistic and practical; I’m ready to be unrealistic and fantastical.

Sure I may not actually get the call, but why not run through it a few times in my mind and just see what it would feel like?  I may not ever end up with the reality but that doesn’t mean I can’t play around with the fantasy.  And besides, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.  What if they do call and I just stammer like an idiot?  Best to have a few rehearsed lines ready to go so I can come across as the polished, put-together writer that I am (not).

And so I will waste the day wondering and dreaming and fantasizing.  Every time the phone rings my heart will beat a little faster and my voice will catch in my throat.  I will wonder “is this it?” for the few brief seconds before a telemarketer on the other end mis-pronounces my name and asks me if I want to have my ducts cleaned.  I will get off the phone as quickly as I can, you know, to keep the line clear because maybe there is another call coming in?

This will continue until the end of the day when I can no longer tell myself that there’s still hope and I will then have to accept the reality.  Accept the fact that three people out there got the phone call I was hoping to get, and their fantasies became reality.  And I will be sad; but not too sad.  Just the little bit of sad that comes with disappointment.

And before I go to bed I will check my spam folder one more time, just in case, and I will lay my head down on the pillow and start thinking about next year, and fantasizing about what it would be like to get the call.

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I closed the chute on the mailbox and then opened it again quickly, checking to make sure the envelope had fallen off the tray. I stopped for a minute, slightly shocked that I’d actually done it this time.

After years of thinking about it and a couple of false starts, this year I finally did it – I submitted a story to a short story contest.

Last year I wrote something, almost finished it actually, but decided not to send it in. Talked myself out of it, let the negative voices win, as they so often have.

This year I forgot about the contest, an annual one sponsored by a newspaper, until it was almost too late. I checked the website mere weeks before the deadline and almost let it end there. But I decided not to take the easy way out this time; instead I sat down and wrote something.

I know nothing about writing short stories. I’m sure there are things that should be considered and thought out and planned but I didn’t do any of them. For me, for this time, it was really about getting something down on paper and getting it in the mail.

I finished it about a week before I had to send it off, funny actually in this day and age that it has to be submitted in hard copy, no email. It means one has to factor in time for snail mail complications, on top of everything else.

But I thought I was in good shape, until the second guessing began. I read it over again and decided I didn’t like the ending, and then the beginning, and then every second sentence. I questioned the main character and why she was doing what she was doing; berated myself for not having a stronger plot or theme. What was this story even about?

So as the deadline ticked closer, the story sat on my computer, seemingly miles away from actually being put on paper and stuffed in an envelope.

And then I just got so sick of myself that I couldn’t stand it any longer. Sick of the excuses, the lame justifications, the ridiculous doubts. If I couldn’t write a story and send it to a bunch of people I didn’t know and have them offer criticisms I would never hear how could I ever expect to write anything that one day might actually be published?

So I found an envelope, I printed off the story and my accompanying bio, and stuffed it into the mailbox, wishing it well on its journey.

I know I will not win; that’s really not even the point I don’t think. The point is that I have proven, at least to myself anyway, that I am one step further ahead than I was last year.

And, as completely cheesy as it sounds, that means I have won.

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