Tag Archives: short story

I (mostly) survived the all-nighter

Okay, I’ll admit it. My husband was right.

I didn’t make it through the entire Burlington Public Library All-Nighter Short Story Contest. I made it to about 2:30 in the morning, at which point I did one last spell-check of my story and handed in my USB key. I’m not sure if the other participants in the contest were eyeing me with pity or envy as I crept my way back to my car and the comfort of my bed.

But I did finish my story, and that’s what it was all about anyway. I wrote nearly 3,000 words in six hours—whew! The hard part wasn’t the writing (we were permitted to bring in a hard-copy outline to work from); it was the editing. When I’m working on a project, I usually have to let it rest for a good long time before re-visiting and polishing it. Oh well, I’ll find out the results at a reception in the new year, after the judges have made their decision.

Thanks for all the support from my fellow Restless Writers!



Filed under Awards and contests

Getting ready to pull an all-nighter—pajamas optional!

Burlington Public Library is hosting an All-Nighter Short Story Writing Contest. Participants have from 6:01 p.m. on Friday, October 30 until 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, October 31 to plan, write, edit and submit a short story. There will be some great prizes and a recognition event in January—along with bragging rights for having survived the contest. Get Up

It’s been a while since I pulled an all-nighter, but I’m sure I can handle it. So what if I’m usually asleep before the credits run on House? Bring on the coffee and the 5-Hour Energy drinks—I’m in!


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Filed under Awards and contests


A short story that I wrote for a workshop was re-worked (thanks, Maria!) and chosen for publication! It can be found on the Every Day Fiction website. Do I qualify as a published author even if the payment couldn’t get me a latte?


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Filed under Success stories

Derailed, and getting back on track

You leave your writers’ group meeting full of anticipation, your mind buzzing with helpful critique and your fingers aching to get at the keyboard. That evening, you devote a couple of hours to your novel, and go to bed feeling that warm, self-righteous glow that comes from productivity. Your next meeting is in four weeks—not a lot of time to produce 20 pages.

The next day, your husband reminds you that you have company coming and the bathrooms need cleaning but he can’t help because he has an early morning tee-time. You sigh the sigh of domestically martyred women everywhere and put on the rubber gloves. When they come off later in the day, you’re too exhausted to check your email, let alone write.

Since you are also a freelancer, Murphy’s Law says that you will get three new projects the minute you take a vacation day to write.

Your sister’s cat gets sick. You need to buy a light bulb and new socks. And your dishwasher needs servicing.

By the time you emerge from this glacier of responsibility, you realize that it’s almost fall and you haven’t written a word in two weeks.

It’s official—you’re derailed.

When you realize that you’ve gone off the tracks, your first emotion is despair. You fret that you’ve lost whatever motivation you may have had to write; that you’ll never get another spark of creativity; that writing won’t make you any money anyway so why bother. The computer is a mute reminder of your thwarted ambition.

But then you feel a little better. It gets easier to not write. You watch reality television. You have dinner with your family. You shop for a new dishwasher.

You work and cook and clean and do all those things that keep your life going. You go for walks. You try a yoga workout. You become a regular visitor at www.CuteOverload.com.

All of a sudden, you remember that you love to read. You immediately devour four women’s magazines, a collection of fairy tales re-told for adults, half a fantasy novel, and the Onion, all in one week.

You re-visit an old Alice Munro story. You finally get what Rust Hills meant when he said “a short story tells of something that happens to someone.”

One day, while you’re flipping through the newspaper, you are struck by an article about a dog who was found at death’s door after being abandoned by his owner. You think how interesting it would be to write a fictional take on the vet who struggles to heal the dog, while she also struggles to extricate herself from a love affair gone sour.

You get that ache in your fingers again.

You decide that So You Think You Can Dance is overrated. You go a day without cute-cat videos. You open up your work-in-progress to the place you left off nearly two weeks ago. You tell yourself you’ll write one paragraph before having dinner.

Three hours later, your husband asks if he should pick up pizza or Thai.

You’re back on track.


Filed under Life and stuff

Taking off the training wheels



The Restless Writers had their first official meeting last Wednesday night. We started with some tapas and wine, chatting easily about what we were writing and why. Before long, it was time to lay the goodies aside and get into the critique.

We each tried to stick to what is generally referred to as the “shit sandwich”—that is, frame your negative comments with some positive ones so the person getting the critique doesn’t feel like giving up, heading home and drowning her sorrows in a pint of Clorox.

One member shared her completed YA novel, which I have had the pleasure of reading before, along with the query letter she was using to send it out to agents. Another member titillated us with the first chapter of her chick-lit novel.

I chose to share a short story that I had started several years ago but recently resuscitated. My reasons for choosing this particular piece were mostly due to vanity. I wanted to show off my lyrical, whimsical side; and I thought my concept was inventive and a little kooky.

The Restless Writers gave me some valuable feedback. There were sections where the story’s timeline and setting were not clear. They wanted to hear more about what caused a certain key element in the story. And how exactly did the characters get from point A to point B?

But the most unexpected feedback I heard was: “This should totally be a novel.” The other writers were so adamant about it that I started wondering why I hadn’t thought to make it a novel from the start. I laughed it off, saying I was just lazy.

“You say it’s laziness, but it’s really fear.” This comment from a fellow Restless Writer must have struck a nerve, because I have thought of little else for the past few days.

I read in Monday’s Toronto Star that procrastination is being studied as a reaction against the fear of failure. Perhaps my genre of choice—the short story—is my own mechanism for dealing with the fear of failing at writing a novel.

What am I afraid of? In short, I’m afraid of screwing up.

With a short story, you have only so much room to go wrong. If one story doesn’t go as planned, you can just pick up and start again. Easy come, easy go—that was my attitude. The short story was my way of practicing writing before I started anything really serious.

Since I re-embarked on writing, I have told myself that I have to start small. I have to re-train writing muscles that have atrophied from lack of use. I have to practice writing in a safe, small and insignificant forum. I told myself that it was just like riding a bike. I just needed to practice. Take a couple of loops around the cul-de-sac before heading out on a real bike ride.

But you know what? I want to create something really spectacular. I want to invest myself in my writing, put the best of my creativity into a great book that resonates with readers. I want to write something that I would love to read. And although I enjoy reading short stories, when I want to lose myself in a work of fiction, the novel wins every time.

So, that whole fear of failing thing? I’m going to forge right past it. After all, no one wants to read a story that still has training wheels attached.

I offer my thanks to the Restless Writers for telling me to get my head out of my butt and write my novel already! I’m planning to share my outline in time for our next meeting.


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Filed under Group meetings, Motivation