Okay. You've finally decided to write that story that's been sitting on a note pad since you were in college, high school, whatever -- you've decided you're going to be a writer. What direction do you want to go in? There are many options to writing, but if you write fiction (which is my choice) you have to decide if you're doing short stories, (like for magazines or collections) or a novel.
I started writing with the idea I was going to write the great novel of the century type thing. LONG story, full of romance and action -- you get the idea. Unfortunately, when I was a teenager, my stories never got much longer than 20 pages. I think one went to 50...
Now that I'm older and hopefully more skilled, I really like short stories. I still have a few novels in the works, (the stories now run an average of 250 pages) but short stories give me the quick pleasure -- the excitement of the finished work much sooner than a novel will or can. My favorite route is entering contests, or challenging myself to write a complete story in less than 600 words, or 300. I really enjoy a flash fiction challenge -- or what we used to call Mad Writes. (We tried one of those here in the past, no takers. Anyone want to try again?)
The appeal for me is the short story doesn't have to have the background, the research, the complete development of the characters. It just needs a simple plot with a punch line at the end that brings it all together. Sometimes I have used these short stories to build a novel around, and that's been fun too. But I never thought I'd like the short story, I was always glued to the novel idea.
What is it you like to read most? Do you like the short stories in magazines? Do you like collections of short stories? In the state of Utah, they have a writing competition every year. It's put on by the Arts Council, and this year it has a short story compilation.
When I read that, I knew this was my year! I had some short stories to enter, all I had to do was gather them together, make sure I met the word count, and send them all in.
That was three weeks ago. Before I entered a slump of not wanting to write. Before I realized that some of the stories I wanted to use would be inappropriate for a contest venue.
I have one week left, and I've been vacillating between getting my butt in gear, and just forgetting the whole thing. You see, I had a dream 24 years ago which was the first (and last) time I entered this contest. I entered my first real completed novel -- nada. Not a thing. No comments, nothing. I had spent three days at my work (my boss had been a real sweetheart!) typing the thing into the computers and printing it up, only to have no input or wining letter.
I wonder if that's what my problem is. Well..I'll have to get my fingers going, and the files opened up and check stuff out. I wouldn't let anyone else shelve their dreams because of a long ago rejection, so I'd better not let myself fall short. Even if I don't ever hear from them, I will know that I entered, that I still tried.
You can't win if you don't step up to the plate.