Triumph and Distress! (news about my NYC Midnight Contest entry)

This is me right now!

I am feeling a mixture of elation, dumb-foundedness, success, fear, panic, exhaustion and pure happiness, all at once.

Here’s why. Remember how I entered my first writing contest in January? You know, the one where I had to write a 2,500 word story in 8 days after being given a prompt that included a genre, a subject and a character? The one where I was put into a heat of 25 writers faced with the same challenge, knowing that only 5 of us would make it to the second round? The one where I felt a sense of triumph for just having finished a story that I didn’t feel entirely crappy about and did not expect to make it to the next round at all?

Well guess what. I found out today I freaking made it to the second round.

Yeah, and I don’t know if this means anything, but my story was listed as #1 on my heat’s “Top 5 Writers” listing. And it wasn’t alphabetical. Or arranged by location. Or story title. I checked.

I honestly can’t believe it. This is the first writing contest I’ve ever entered and this was the first short story I’ve written since the ones that I had to write for my college creative writing classes. I feel happy, and I’m not afraid to say it. I feel like maybe I’m not so crazy for believing (sometimes) that I have a talent for story-telling. I feel good.

But, I also feel panicked.

Here is why: I got the email announcing I’d made it to the second round halfway through a 14-hour shoot day here (my 2nd in a row) in St. Louis, along with the instructions that the next round starts tonight at midnight EST (or roughly an hour ago), and that I would have 3 days this time to write a 1,500 word story. Did I mention I have two more 14-hour shoot days ahead of me? And that the 3rd day of this round I will be checking out of my hotel and flying back to LA? The timing of the 2nd round for me is pretty rough, and to be honest I hadn’t planned for it because I never imagined my story would get me to the 2nd round.

But here I am. I just got my prompt, and even though I have to be up in 7 hours, I am not going to sleep until I’ve at least worked out a story in my mind and outlined it enough to start my first draft tomorrow night.

Just because I didn’t plan to be in this situation doesn’t mean I’m not going to grab this challenge by the horns and beat it into submission.

I’ll catch you all on the flip side, in about 1,500 words. Or, when I look like this:

Where The Hell I’ve Been

It has been some time since my last post, which was pretty much expected on my end as this is the busiest time of the year for me. From January to April, I do a lot of traveling for work, which I really love but admittedly doesn’t leave much time for writing! I find what little time I do have to write, I spend it working on my novel. It isn’t a lot of time though, but 15 minutes here and there do add up over a few months.

I had the pleasure of traveling to San Francisco twice in the last month, a city that I hadn’t been to since I was about 16. I’d either not noticed it before or had forgotten it over time but I absolutely love San Francisco! It has more character than any other city in America, in my opinion. Every city street you walk down (or up!) is unmistakably San Franciscan. The architecture is so unique to the city and the neighborhoods are so distinct that I can’t help but think that if America was a novel and it’s cities the characters, San Francisco would be the most distinct, well-written and three-dimensional one in the entire book.

On my first trip there, I spent my free half day riding a rented bike from Fisherman’s Wharf to the Golden Gate bridge and back, and even though it rained for most of the day, it was a beautiful and memorable ride. And when I returned a few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to spend a day leading a b-roll crew around the city to film the most iconic landmarks on an unseasonably sunny day in February. It was a perfect day that culminated in watching the sun set over the city from Twin Peaks overlook.

I am about halfway done with my work travel, at least for this part of the year, and I feel a renewed sense of excitement to get back into writing more and spending more time contributing to this blog. Usually a few months of heavy travel and heavy drinking leaves me with a fresh, new outlook on my writing, even if it is accompanied by a weakened liver and a consistent feeling of jet lag that takes weeks to disappear.

See you all soon!

 

NYC Midnight Contest is over!!! (Round One anyways….)

Take a good look at this amazing picture. No, a closer look.

Okay, okay, it may not look like anything to you, but to me, it is beautiful. Triumphant, even.

Yep, that is a short story. A FINISHED short story. A finished short story that I WROTE.

A finished short story that I wrote in 8 DAYS.

In my last post, I laid out the prompt that my heat was given for the first round of the NYC Midnight short story contest. I wasn’t feeling too confident about my story choice, and I was kinda bummed I hadn’t been more productive.

But dammit, I feel GREAT today. I feel AMAZING because on Saturday, I finished and submitted my 2486 word story. And that was after finishing the rough draft on Wednesday, getting notes from a couple of trusted friends, rethinking my first draft and giving myself some time (and a night of heavy drinking at a friend’s show at the Roxy) to help me get enough distance for a rewrite, and then doing an all out rewrite and polish, allowing myself enough time to turn it in 7 hours early.

So yeah, I feel good. I feel good because this contest forced me to work on something and demand the best for myself. Even though I wasn’t crazy about the concept I came up with, I wanted to make it the best version of that story that I could write, and I actually followed through with it. I especially felt great after looking over the forums on the contest website and seeing how many people waited until the last minute to finish it…..that is usually me!

And thinking about how much I got done in one week makes me see the potential of how much more I could get done if I spent more time knocking out the rough draft of my novel, even if it is just a couple nights a week of 2 hour sessions. It just takes buckling down and not allowing myself to get out of my chair, no matter how much I want to turn on MSNBC or eat some ice cream and Magic Shell.

I don’t find out if I made it to the next round until early March, but to be honest, I don’t expect to. I’ve already gotten so much out of this contest just by accomplishing what I did in a week, and I’m looking forward to the receiving the judges’ feedback.

And in case you were wondering, I did celebrate finishing the story by going out for a drink for my brother’s birthday. And by a drink, I mean a beer tower.

NYC Midnight Contest, 3 Days In…..

I received my prompt late Friday night for the NYC midnight contest, and now I find myself three days in having nearly finished my first draft and SO happy that I entered! Of course, I’m frustrated with my lack of productivity (I’d hoped to to be finished with my rough draft by now) and I’m worried that I didn’t choose the right idea to pursue, but all in all, this contest has given my imagination a run for it’s money and pushed me to complete a story that a week ago did not exist, not even in my own head.

My heat received the following guidelines for our first round story:

Genre: Fantasy

Subject: An attack

Character: A singer

First of all, I was pretty excited to get Fantasy as my genre, but I wasn’t entirely sure about the definition of “Fantasy” in terms of this competition. Were they looking for a Lord of the Rings-style story that took place in an entirely different universe, or would a story set in present day with fantastical elements work as well? I was even more confused by the fact that another heat was given “Fairy Tale” as their genre. The two seemed somewhat interchangeable.

In the end, I chose a story set in the present time, in the South, but with fantastical elements…..creatures to be exact. In short, the story is about an unhappily married woman who frequents a shoddy karaoke bar run by elves, who is about to hit her high note one night when her husband bursts in and demands that she come home.

I know, my brain works in weird ways. But I figured, write what you know, right? And I know a lot about shoddy karaoke bars. Too much maybe.

I have until Saturday night to finish the story (and keep it under 2500 words!) so wish me luck. If all goes well, I’ll be heading to a shoddy karaoke bar immediately after I send it in.

I just decided I love writing contests now.

I’m REALLY excited because I just paid to enter the 2012 Short Story Challenge after a friend of mine told me about it. Basically, it is a writing contest with three rounds. For each one you are given a genre, subject, and character and you have a limited amount of time to write a story using them. For the first round you have 8 days to write a 2,500-words story, and then if you move on to the second round, you have 3 days to write 1,500 words. If you make it to the final round, you only have 24 hours to write a 1,000 word short story and have a stab at the $1,500 grand prize!

But let me clarify: I did not enter this contest to win money. I paid the $49 entry fee and have blocked off those first 8 days for two reasons. First of all, it is a creative challenge with a serious deadline, which is something I haven’t really faced since my college creative writing classes. And secondly (and most importantly), each writer gets in-depth feedback from the judges for every story submitted, which will be amazingly helpful as I try to sharpen my fiction writing skills.

Once I’d paid the entry fee and then felt the rush of excitement about this new challenge, I realized that this would be a great year to start entering writing contests like these. They are a great opportunity to refine my writing ability, and the deadlines are awesome motivators to get my ass down in that chair and write.

So, in typical Lindsay fashion, I found 5 more contests to enter and added them to my calendar. This is what I always do – find a new obsession and throw myself head first over the cliff into it. But since this is a productive one, I’m letting myself take the leap. I might actually get some okay writing done because of it!

I’m excited and ready for the challenge, and I will definitely keep you all updated on how it goes! And if anyone is interested in entering, you should check out their website to learn more. The deadline to enter is January 18th.