So, the May StoryADay Challenge is over. I know I’m a week late with the wrap up, but I’ve been preoccupied with herding recently-graduated students now set adrift in a big scary world, as well as finding a new job (I won’t go into details; suffice it to say the split was less than amicable).
So, how did I do?
Stories began: 15.
Stories finished: 7.
It’s not as good as I’d hoped, but about what I’d expected. And it reiterates something I’ve learned from NaNoWriMo the past two years: I can’t force myself to write.
First, it comes down to time, and other hobbies and obligations. My son comes first; any writing done needs to fit around his schedule. My job, obviously, is next – lesson planning, grading, etc. And then sometimes I just feel the urge to make crocheted monkey finger puppets. Or grill up some kafka to go with the parsley pilaf and tahini sauce I made for dinner.
While writing is important, it’s not everything.
Maybe more importantly, however, is inspiration. Or ideas, perhaps.
For example, I have a short story, “Hope for Change,” in Foliate Oak Literary Magazine. When I sat down to write that I knew who the main character was – a homeless guy. I knew what the story was about – his life on the streets. But until I had a plot arc – a guy gives him money and it spurs him to make a life change – I couldn’t write the story.
On that vein, I have a ton of stories like that. Maybe I’ve written a page. Maybe I’ve written ten chapters. But unless I have that plot arc, I can sit and write all day and nothing will come of it. I need time to let that idea organically grow. And once it’s formed, I can crank out the story in a couple days (assuming I have the time and I’m in the right mood – I can’t write dark stuff if I’m feeling silly, for example).
I’ve noticed I have a hard time responding to prompts as well. There are two contest pieces I’m working on right now: one is slipstream (kinda like magical realism, I think), and the other has to have a horse, a dog, and a boat. Fortunately I was already working on a slipstreamy story that I can submit. And another story can easily have those three things woven in. Which worked out well, because I’ve spend several days trying to come up with stories specifically for those prompts.
So, lesson of this challenge: I need to find a way to force myself to write. Or perhaps I need to stop signing up for these challenges. :)