So as I wrote in another post a while back, I’ve been working on my fiction writing skills.
After several attempts to turn words into coherent sentences, I finally got a short story written, revised, edited and submitted to a lit magazine contest.
Pulp Literature’s Hummingbird Flash Fiction contest was for stories under 1000 words and could be about pretty much anything. Coming off a decade in journalism where you write clear, concise, and to-the-point articles, writing a flash fiction story felt more natural than trying to world-build and extensive character development.
Is that a cop out? I dunno, perhaps.
So I hummed and hawed and questioned myself and doubted myself and let my anxiety run away with me for a bit before hitting ‘submit’ on the website.
And then it went to the back of my mind and I almost forgot about it.
In the meantime I worked on some other stories – I wrote three pages of a post-apocalyptic dystopian story that got wiped from my hard drive and started on a creative non-fiction piece, which is more in my wheelhouse – and just kept going.
Then I got an email one night saying my wee little story made the longlist for the contest. That means it was good enough to be considered for the top prize. That means it wasn’t terrible.
If that’s not pure validation I don’t know what is. Considering all I was expecting was a critique of the story, this was very exciting.
I didn’t make it any farther than the longlist, but I still feel pretty accomplished.
Now, I had a few people as to read to the story, because of course they do, why wouldn’t they? But I am reluctant to share the story at this point in time.
Why? Because it’s about a mass shooting in a grocery store.
You may have heard about a similar situation in the states at a Trader Joe’s in Los Angeles on July 21. This was a coincidence to the nth degree, though I suppose it was only a matter of time before mass shootings in the states went from schools, movie theatres, and churches to the local supermarket.
Another “why” folks may be asking is, why did I write about such a bleak subject? My short story ideas come from a list of nightmares I’ve had over the years. If the dream is vivid enough that I actually remember it, I usually write down the gist of what happened and use it as a story prompt. One of those was about hiding amongst the hot dogs while someone was holding shoppers hostage at some random store.
So, yeah. It would be a bit insensitive to post the story here where the public can see it. Maybe some day, but not right now.
For the time being, I’m just gonna keep plugging away on my little Chromebook and get some more of these ideas out of my head.
Wish me luck.
UPDATE: I received the critique on this story last night and it was positively glowing. A couple things to change, but beyond that all positive feedback. I really don’t suck after all!