In my quest to be a significantly more serious and focused writer, I’ve decided upon a course of action much more bold than I’ve ever considered before. I’m going to write to the best of my ability and submit my writing to contests. If I win something, that would be nice (and my eventual goal will be to start winning contests on at least a semi-regular basis), but my initial goal will be to simply get better at writing by taking it seriously and doing the work necessary to improve.
There are some things I believe I already do well, some initial writing strengths, and these are what I believe make me a halfway decent writer right now; but being halfway decent is not going to win contests and is certainly not going to be good enough to be published. And if I am, in fact, merely halfway decent, I wouldn’t want my writing published until I can be considered a very good writer. And frankly, I’m just not there. Not yet.
The best approach, of course, will be short fiction. Shorter forms require fewer words, obviously, and potentially can be written in less time. My goal is to have between ten and twelve short stories written by the end of the summer and ready for submission to contests. Yeah, that’s a big deal for someone like me that hasn’t finished one thing I’ve ever started, but I’ve got to break that cycle. Writing ten to twelve stories with complete beginnings, middles and ends should break it pretty good.
So, even though I’m starting all over with a brand new website and have, I think, a total of two followers of my blog so far, I’m still going to ask both of you (LOL!) to recommend contests for short fiction (primarily short stories) that are known to be reputable. I’m not looking for prestige here or even trying to get noticed, I just want to gain experience right now.
The most difficult thing for me at first is actually conceiving of a plot that would work for short fiction. It’s hard for me to even think in terms of fiction shorter than a novel – maybe a novella, but even that’s a stretch. I had an idea a day or two ago that I like very much, but even now in the conceptual stage I keep wanting to expand the story. I’ve got to learn to be more deliberate and have greater control over the writing process from start to finish if I’m really going to get better at this.
This is a life commitment. My life is rife with distractions, all the more difficult to navigate because they are thoroughly valid. My job is not important apart from the income it provides, but that income is critical. Money is extremely tight. My wife and I are constantly trying to work out how to deal with life’s hurdles. I think back to the countless hours I had available to me for writing and when I realize how I wasted them it makes me heartsick. I was a very different person then.
So, I’ll make the very best of what little time I have these days and trust God to make the details work. It may mean that I don’t get to post here as often as I would like, but I’m still going to try to be better about posting than I was before. God doesn’t call us to pursue success; He calls us to pursue His work with diligence and to let Him provide the results as He wills, trusting in His divine and perfect providence. I aim to do that.