Talking to my family the other day, they said, “You’ve not been very active on social media lately.”
I’m at the tail end of my creative writing course. I have a portfolio due on 18 October. And the short story anthology I was writing about a fictional small town just out of reach of Chicago? I shelved that idea, and most of the 16-ish stories I had completed or partially completed.
Why? Am I crazy?
During the July school holidays, a story (admittedly spun out from a conversation with my classmates about LGBTQIA+ history and documentaries) flowed out of me. And it kept calling me back. I completed a second related story. And a third.
The three totaled over 14,000 words.
It moved me, this story of the love and loss between family. How grief can throw us, how love is eternal, how the most unassuming of people can bring us back to normal and spur us to fight for ourselves and our loved one’s legacy.
Story one got thrust into critique with my classmates when a few others didn’t have any stories ready for review. Mine wasn’t that polished, but everyone who read it — classmates, teacher, mentor — asked if it happened to me in real life. No, no, almost all of it is fictional. Many were surprised. My mentor said she loved good writing, and reading my work would be “off the clock” of the 6 mentorship hours I’d receive through my course.
The feedback I received was: this story’s too big for the 5,200 words in it.
I had a choice: rip out the guts to make it comply with a short story format; or combine it with the other two parts and expand it to a novella or even a novel.
I picked the novella route.
After getting 6,000 (new!) words into a false start, I started again from scratch on 31 August 2021.
While I’ve added parts from the original stories, most of it has been rewritten.
As of today, I’m almost halfway through, and I’ve written 31,700 words. That doesn’t include the 9,000 words from the last 2 stories out of the 3 as I haven’t got that far yet.
At the end of this, my portfolio has the chance to win a prize and a professional editor to go over it.
Since I’m feeling so inspired — nice change from depersonalized — I’ve been focusing on my writing, and that’s chewing up a ton of my time (in a good way).
Here’s hoping all this hard work pays off!