Yesterday I turned in the final short story of 2019, “Shipwreck on the Flaming River.” Set in my Argosy universe, the story begins in the Temple of Isis in Alexandria and features a new Argosy character, Thaddeus. A rough Greek who specializes in stripping shipwrecks of their valuables he is surprised to be summoned to the Egyptian Temple by Isis herself. It was a fun story to write. It simply rolled out of my keyboard as if Isis were dictating it to me.
I’m glad I ended the year in Argosy. The fifth story I wrote for The Great Challenge was set in Argosy and it was my first story to win a Writers of the Future Honorable Mention. My second honorable mention was for a story set in Thule. Now I am pondering what to send for this quarter’s competition, which is due tomorrow.
One of the challenges I set for myself after attending Superstars was to submit a story every quarter to Writers of the Future, which is a contest open only to new writers. The prizes for the winners and those who are place are truly astounding: a week with professional, best-selling writers who mentor the winners, publication in their anthology, large cash prizes, and an awards ceremony. Plus, one of the Artists of the Future will do an illustration for your story. It would be a dream come true to win one of the quarterly contests.
I don’t think I’m good enough yet, but the practice is to write and to send out the stories. One of my yoga teachers told me, “Students tell me all the time that they don’t belong in yoga because they are not yet flexible. That’s the wrong way to think about it. Flexibility is the result of yoga, not a prerequisite. That’s why we call it practice.”
I’m not ready yet, but I never will be unless I practice writing and sending things out. So today I contemplate which of my stories to send like a good little soldier into the enemy encampment to negotiate for a prize. That’s today’s mission. Whichever story I send to WOTF, I can’t send elsewhere until they are done with it, which will take months.
Luckily, I have a lot of stories thanks to the Great Challenge.
If you are interested in joining me in my quixotic quest for a Writers of the Future award, you can find information on their site. Also helpful is their forum run by Brad Torgensen and Wulf Moon. If you want information on what the head judge is looking for in contest entries, sign up for Dave Farland’s Writing Tips. He often explains what he is looking for and why many stories fall short.
I hope the last bit of 2019 is treating you well as it gasps its last breath. It’s been a very good year for me. I’m looking forward to 2020. Anything can happen. There is no way to see ahead. Life is the one true great adventure.
May your practice this year bring you peace, success, and flexibility. But even if it doesn’t, practice is worthwhile in its own right. May you enjoy its benefits.