A few weeks ago, I wrote a short story in less than a day. I had a title in mind, and was mulling over what sort of story would go with it. I’d used the same title quite a few years ago with a short story I wrote for a competition that will never again see the light of day, but I really loved the title and wanted to use it again with a new story.
So, I discovered a new writer’s festival was coming up, and they had a short story competition. I vaguely thought I should write a story for it, if I found the time.
That same week, I was heading to bed late one night after a long day of writing and plotting when the title popped into my head again. Maybe it was my sleep-deprived brain doing the talking, but I let my mind wander and within an hour of going to bed, I had come up with a character and a setting I thought I could work with.
Instead of getting out of bed to write down those first thoughts and ideas, I slept on it. Lo and behold, the next morning when I sat down with my coffee and began to write, the words flowed. It was a fantastic feeling, and the fact that I actually liked what I was writing made it all the better.
I got to around 2,500 words and still hadn’t finished the story when I decided to stop and take a break, because the competition had a 2,000 word limit. I re-read it that afternoon, wrote it until the end, and then cut mercilessly at anything that didn’t belong until finally, exhausted, I got it down to 1,997 words.
As soon as I finished it, I wanted people to read it, but I knew I had written it with the competition in mind, so I sent it to my beta readers for feedback. I filled out the entry form, printed out the story, and then….
And then I didn’t post it. I’m not sure what stopped me, but something did, and I’m glad. Because then I read this facebook post by Hugh Howey –
That post made me reassess what I want from my career as a writer. I asked myself what I wanted most from my writing. The answer?
I want people to read my stories.
I want to write stories and I want people to read them. It made me think about whether that competition would help me move forward with that one goal. It wouldn’t. Entering that competition would lock that story up until November, when the winner would be announced. If I were lucky enough to win or get selected for inclusion into the anthology, it still wouldn’t allow people to read my story. Why? Because that anthology most likely wouldn’t be available to people outside the festival or the organisation that was printing it. It certainly wouldn’t be available on amazon, where people who bought the anthology to read other authors could discover me.
That one post by Hugh Howey made me remember why I do what I do, and what I love most about writing. It’s the sharing of stories that I love. The sharing of characters and thoughts and ideas with people who might enjoy them and connect with them.
Last night I commissioned an ebook cover and started getting the file ready to compile and upload. This morning, after some final checks, it’s ready to go.
You can buy my new story, Sunday – fish, from amazon. The other stores will follow on the weekend.
And by the way, I bought and read that short story Hugh was referring to in his facebook post, Promises of London, and highly recommend it. You can buy it from amazon for 99c here.