4:00 pm (Fri)
It’s been a long week — a week of writing woes, knots and bolts, a few headaches and small triumphs. But I won’t tell you the half of it. I’ll sum it up neatly and hope I do it justice. For the past week I’ve been working on meeting deadlines — those dreaded deadlines. I had one writing competition and an e-zine submission. Only one worked out. Perhaps it’s all for the better.
The first deadline was an online publication opportunity for children’s literature. There was also was a writing competition organised by the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) but only one story. At least only one story I thought was ready to meet the scrutiny of wary eyes.
So for most of the week I juggled thoughts, trying to figure out where to send my Anancy story. Who would appreciate my story more? Which option was my best bet?
The e-zine felt like a more viable option. I’d seen their publications. The stories were usually on par with my kind of work. But there was one problem, the illustrations.
I would most likely need an illustrator to create a few pictures. But where would I get an illustrator and how would I pay? Like most aspiring artists, my pocket was a wasteland. I needed a solution fast. Perhaps some philanthropic artist would feel my plight and volunteer to help? Perhaps a miracle would happen and I’d get some money fast. Perhaps the e-zine would extend the deadline, giving me more than a few days to summon a miracle.
When last Friday came I finally admitted to myself the obvious. I wouldn’t meet the deadline. The story was ready but why go through all the trouble of getting an illustrator I couldn’t afford?A careful perusal of the e-zine’s submission also revealed I didn’t meet the requirements in terms of the theme. They wanted a story based on landscape and mine focused more on characters than the setting. So I didn’t submit the story.
As it turns out, the manager for the e-zine recently posted that a year’s hiatus was in short order because to be frank, the submissions weren’t very good. I was disappointed but at the same time relieved. Thank God I wasn’t one of writers who’d submitted work. My goodness, I’d feel worse if my story was in the not-so-good batch of submissions.
My co-worker thought that was silly. Probably my story would have resurrected their lost hopes… Probably my story would have saved the publication from a too-long hiatus. I left him to his wild imaginings.
It just wasn’t my time. Better luck next year.
Since I couldn’t just leave my story sitting in the closet of undiscovered thoughts and perhaps talents, I thought it best to submit it to the JCDC on Wednesday. As I sat before the administrator who was collecting the story, I finally took a glimpse at the submission details. Short stories should be 3500-3000 words.
My story was a bit below the word count, I confessed. She smiled and said, “Do you think you could extend it?” Sigh. I’m not like one of those writers who could conjure up thousands of words in an hour — perfect words that looked good on paper and sounded even better when read. It wasn’t gonna happen but I submitted the story anyway. Hopefully the judges focus more on the story than the stipulated word count.
This journey has it’s challenges but I feel like it’s okay to have these struggles. Won’t it be far better in the end when I publish my books and hone my craft in the process?
Conflicts are the heart of every good story. I hope the challenges will keep on coming. There are lessons to be learnt.