We all like to put our best foot forward. As a writer, I want people to be interested in what I write, I want them to see what I can do and I do not want to fall flat. So when I went to Flash!Friday and nothing called to me… I had a decision to make.
I could just not enter or I could try and write something. My first few ideas fell flat and nothing ‘called to me’ I had no catchy ‘first line’ and the last time I had that problem, I had a story that had a lot of promise but just didn’t catch the spark you need in short stories.
The prompt was an interesting perspective shot, and as you can see it induces more than a little vertigo:
My first thought of course was a prison courtyard setting, but the next thought that followed was: too obvious. In a collection of 20-30 short stories, you want your work to stand out, so you have to step outside the box.
All morning I toyed with the idea of a crime scene investigation and the starting line “So, you really think he jumped from the roof?” There would be a discussion of splatter pattern and forensics, only to reveal either two detectives, or two children, on vacation and the splatter pattern was the splash pattern from someone jumping into the pool.
It was cute, but I really couldn’t get into it, and I only had 250 words to tell the story, give or take 25)
Towards the end of the day I had a good hook, but I really didn’t love the story. I didn’t even particularly like it, but I got some decent feedback on it. The question was: did I want to post when it didn’t really wow me?
I had to decide if I wanted to post a decent story with no ‘umph’ and prove I could write consistently or sit this one out.
With about half an hour left to the competition, I did come up with a story I liked, but I did not have enough time to finish it before the deadline, and so I polished the lesser story and entered it. But should I have?
I’m reading conflicting advice on the matter and the main point made early and often is: you want to wow your readers. You want them to like your work, but… I want people to know that this is how I am. I’m not always going to be brilliant, or witty, or off the wall 24-7, and I’m not always going to find the ‘magic’ in a picture with only 24 hours to write (and do everything else I have to do in a day).
In the end it comes down to a choice: do you write for your audience, and only publish when the story is as finished and polished as it can be, or do you admit, your work isn’t always a contender but you’d like feedback on it?
Looking back, I probably shouldn’t have posted. Its one thing to show how a story develops and let people see it before it gets its final polish, but if I’m going to enter a story in a contest, I want people to know they’ll be getting something I feel is worth reading.
I think I might go back and try and make those stories ones I’d be proud of.
What do you think?