There’s a first time for everything. Yesterday I entered my first writing contest. The contest deadline is actually today but as I hate being late for anything and I felt a consuming need to send the story off (mostly so I could stop obsessing over every word or turn of a phrase) I sent it in yesterday.
It was an interesting process. The contest is hosted by The Write Practice, a website I’ve been following since I declared my focus on writing. Different from most contests that I’m looking into, this one provides a platform to have your piece workshopped by other writers prior to submission. What I learned during this process, and what I suspected all along, is that writing is much more complicated than just writing. Sure, there is the idea and story concept but there are also rules on how to open a story and how you construct your sentences. What point of view are you writing from and why? What tense are you writing in? Are you using passive voice? Not good. So many things to think about.
As a person who has generally written using a ‘stream of consciousness’ method, focusing so much on each component of my work has been a challenge. But most certainly a good one. Although I’m not sure you’ll see much evidence of it here, I feel my writing is already improving. Here, I enjoy allowing my brain to give you its thoughts in an unaltered, unfettered manner. I think you’ll get to know me better that way. It’s pretty much who I am in written form.
After the Storm – by Sally O’Grady
I submitted four drafts of my story, After the Storm, each one an improvement on the last. Critiques included inconsistencies in tense, punctuation, suggested additions of character or scene descriptions, and even notations of overused words. Just. Apparently, I use the word just a lot. Something I probably would never have noticed without this step in the process.
It was an invaluable exercise and it has made me look at my writing with very different eyes. If that’s what one contest can accomplish, I look forward to going farther down the road of research as I weave together this story living in me that I’m trying to get out.
Once my submission has been published on the contest webpage, I’ll provide a link so, if you’re interested, you can take a read. For fun, a lot of the entrants were creating ‘book covers’ for their short stories so I figured, why not? Not sure if this is a book you’d purchase at your favourite local book shop but I hope you’d at least pause to read the dust cover.
As always, I’m grateful for this platform to be able to write about this journey I’m on and I’m equally grateful for all of you out there who are sharing the journey with me.
4 responses to “First Time”
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Excited for you! I think it’s like any new habit, awkward at first as you have to actually think about each step, but soon enough it will flow along as you incorporate the technical details more unconsciously.
Can’t wait to read the new version!
I think with your teaching background (and my inability to remember anything from English class) I should be tapping you on the shoulder to critique! Hopefully, you’re right though, it will become more natural with practice.