I have entered one of my short stories in a competition. I got it together and sent it off a mere two days from the closing date. I knew about the competition for at least a month beforehand. It was specifically for horror stories. I kept telling myself that I didn’t have time to write anything new. It never occurred to me that I had all those unpublished horror stories languishing on my memory stick.
By the time I thought that I might like to enter the competition after all, there was only about a week left. I decided to have a look at what I’d already written. Predominantly they were first drafts, and even though I’d had feedback on most of them, I hadn’t, out of sheer laziness (or, perhaps, a fear of revision) done any further work on them. I knew I would have to act fast.
There was one story which my writers’ group said needed very little work on it. Unfortunately, it was 500 words short of the limit. I pondered over what to add (as I read it back, I found myself actually crossing out words), and came to the conclusion that all I would be doing was padding it out, and therefore making it less effective. I would have to find something else.
Looking through the junk in my locker, I found a lot of feedback notes on another story, and this one was about the right number of words. I was reasonably pleased with it, but knew it could be improved. So over two days I revised it.
I’m proud of myself for doing this. To have actually written a second draft of something is an achievement for me, and the second draft does actually improve it. I wish I’d started a whole lot earlier, and I feel ready to look at some of my other stories and to revise them and send them off. Obviously, I want to win the competition, but even the fact that I posted the story has energised me and given me hope.
I edited on my work computer, when I was meant to be working. As I travelled home that night, my back was aching and my eyes were swimming from staring at the screen for longer than was good for me. I was aware that I’d had a gnawing tension all day, as I’d tried to beat the clock. But I’ve got a story out there, and that feels terrific.