Bite-sized Writing News

I’ve had a couple of bits of good writing news in the last week or so.

I found out a 49-word short story I wrote was a finalist in the Perth’s Shortest Short Story 2014 competition run by the WA Writers Centre. This was my entry:

“Hurry, Mummy.” Max tugs my sleeve. I’ve promised him icecream for being so brave. Tomorrow, surgeons operate on his eye.
“Look. A monster.” Another boy points. Chocolate melts over his fingers because he’s forgotten to lick.
“Don’t want icecream anymore,” Max says.
My heart breaks as we walk away.

I didn’t win – but it didn’t matter. I liked all the short stories (6) that were named as finalists. This was the winner and runner-up:

Author: Harry Schmitz (Winner)
His slouch hat suddenly hit the sand. Puzzled, Jock picked it up. Still the Coolgardie dust ingrained on its brim. Still the briny smell of weeks at sea on the troop ship to this Turkish beach. Then he saw it: The entry and exit holes of a sniper bullet.

Author: Emily Hone (Runner up)
I once ran a hotel for ghosts, but we were shut down (the authorities cited “a lack of financial transparency”). In between all the BOO!-ing and feng shui it became frightfully difficult to settle debts, or décor. Our bar, ‘The Afterlife’, was never that popular either… God knows why.

They are fun aren’t they?

I must say how nice it was to spend half an hour on a 49-word story, rather than six months on an 80,000-word book. 😉

I’ve entered a 3000-word story in another competition, and received news this week that I’ve made “the long list”… how exciting. And are you now, like me, wondering just how long, the long list is? 🙂

Some days are diamonds

Have you ever been driving around, and you see the car bumper sticker: Magic Happens?

Half of us probably think: “Yes, it does!”… I have no doubt the other half think: “Yeah. So does shit.”

Well. I had a diamond of a day yesterday where magic happened.

During the week something (I’m not sure what) motivated me to check out the RWA Contest info and particularly, the Little Gems contest for short stories. I’ve never written a short story, unless you want to count something about Dick and Dora and them finding a long-lost cat. Little Gems stories are max 3000 words and this year’s theme is Sapphires. So a sapphire has to feature somewhere.

I sat down to watch the start of the Hobart cricket test (yes, procrastinating again from my WIP and blaming cricket). It was raining and the start was delayed and so I wandered into the computer room.

This whisper of an idea for Little Gems had been swirling in my mind. The kids were being beautifully behaved and happy drawing (and playing Sharp Tooth – which is my youngest son’s version of Dinosaur games), and I just sat down at the computer and everything flowed. By 11am, I was already half-way to my 3000 words and I’d reread them a few times.

About that time, my eldest son started asking about a trip to the playground. Because the muse was flowing, I was tempted to say, “later mate”… but then I changed my mind and we all traipsed down to the playground. It was a fast traipse because my three-year-old took off on me and my five-year-old (appropriately dressed in his Superman suit) and I had to catch him before the road. (And the little bugger is getting fast!) We had a great hour down at the local school playground and oval.

Then it was back for lunch and I sat down again to write and by about 2 or 3pm, I’d finished 3000 words, with another couple of read-throughs. By 4 o’clock. I was calling it finished. I even flagged it on Facebook.

Cate Ellink wrote back that if: “everyone had days like that, everyone would be a writer.” She’s right. I told my husband about my day this morning (he works Saturdays). I even let him read the story – which is the first time he’s read anything I’ve written. Getting 3000 words in a day and feeling like they’re good – it’s gold. There are days I write nothing, and days I do worse than nothing (write crap that gets deleted).

One of the things I struggle with is balancing being a mum with my writing. Sometimes I have these magic days, like yesterday, when I feel like I’ve achieved what I want to achieve, and my kids have had a good day too. We finished the day by picking zucchinis (I have a bumper crop) and delivering them up the road to friends where the kids had a play.

It was only much later, when I switched on the Channel 7 news and saw the dramas of another mass shooting in America, that the rest of the world broke in upon my dreamy little bubble. I don’t know the answers. I don’t begin to understand the politics of their problem. But I so hope they can find a way.