Another spring, another A to Z Challenge finished. Another collection of short fiction to sit on my computer, taking up room, until I figure out what to do with them.
This year’s challenge saw me actually planning and writing my posts ahead of time, which turned out for the best in a couple of ways. First, I came up with a number of short pieces that I really enjoyed. Here are my favorites:
Brownies and Babeldom
Mischievous brownies help around the cafe.
Confrontations with a street prophet.
Strange findings on opening a bushel of apples.
Second, throughout April I was banging my head against a creative wall, trying, desperately to write a short story to submit to an anthology (after a previously submitted story was rejected, albeit kindly and with a warm prompt to submit something that might better fit the collection….hence all the headbanging).
If I hadn’t written some some of those enjoyable little short fics, I might very well have been convinced to take a sabbatical from writing after the last few months. The A to Z Challenge helped keep me (relatively) sane. I’ll no doubt be doing the challenge again next year, as it helps pull me out of the writing doldrums that seem to accompany spring each year.
I did finally admit defeat on the submission, having hacked through two story ideas, indulged in various doldrums, created countless paper balls for the cats to play with, and finalized a draft portion of a tale that still needs more work and – preferably – feedback from a fellow writer before it gets submitted anywhere.
There was just no way I was going to make the May 1st deadline with a satisfactory (to me) piece of work.
I did learn something from the disaster. I learned that when I’m trying to write for someone else, I tend not to like what I produce. I learned that when I’m trying to write with a deadline looming over me, I tend not to like what I produce.
And I reinforced the fact that I don’t want to turn fiction writing into some kind of day job. I can turn out instructional or technical writing on a deadline, no problem; maybe because it doesn’t matter if I like it so long as my client does.
With my fiction, I have to like it first and foremost (loving it would be great, but I’ll settle). And apparently, in order to get to the liking-it stage, I need a little less constraint (even if it’s only to keep me from sabotaging myself).
So, my goal for the coming months is to work, steadily, quietly, on several of my unfinished projects, to lose myself in the stories – the way I lost myself in those little ficlets up top – to share them with my critique partner and to not think about publishing them until I have a decent collection built up. (Because schlepping the same story time and time again gets a little old.)