I’m focused on three writing contests.
The first is from On the Premises. I’ve submitted twice to their contests and worked on two more (but didn’t submit). I like their prompts and support of the community. The editors have taste similar to mine… their advice is so start in medias res, constantly escalate action or tension, and add nothing extraneous. Tight, controlled, interesting. Music to my ears, and the opposite of what a typical literary magazine seeks. I also feel like I have unfinished business with their contests; Wasted Crisis wasn’t considered for a prize because I included my name on the manuscript, but the editor showed it would have been in the running. And I made the second round of consideration for 5:59 a story about a couple on a train.
The second contest story is from Ireland Writing Retreat. I found their site while looking for an editor. They are based in Donegal, Ireland where they host week-long workshops. I’d taken a stab at their earlier Time contest, but couldn’t get the story to work. This contest calls for a story about Hope… but it can only be 500 words and can only use the word “Hope” one time between the title and the main text. Interesting! Love the guardrails. I came up with a story featuring a runner trying to beat his rival… I took a chance with the writing style and tried to incorporate things I’ve learned from George Saunders and others. We’ll see.
Finally, the third contest is from a new group, to me at least: Hungry Shadows Press. They asked for a story in my wheelhouse… what happened the first five minutes after the end of the world? Not what caused the apocalypse, but what happens next. Great premise… so, no stories about people walking through ruins or rebuilding. It tempted me to write in the ATSW universe… but that required an explanation (a wave of people differs from the typical infection/flu/EMP/nuclear event scenario). So I created a new story… I started late and am worried it won’t have enough polish.
Hopefully, this respite from ATSW will leave me in a better spot. These contests are fun and I love the restrictions. If I learned anything from books and essays on creativity, it’s working within guardrails can bring out the best.