I looked up the word “challenge” in the thesaurus today. Turns out I am challenging myself a lot these days, and I needed a new way to describe it. All of the other words are not quite enough, though. Straining myself. Sounds too…digestive. Stretching myself. I did that yesterday, among other ungodly things, while I did yoga. Warriors one, two, AND three were all disappointed in my showing. I keep trying to “be forgiving” of my performance, like the nice lady yoga instructor on the DVD was telling me to do. If she could have seen the situation herself, she would have added, “Forgive also your son, who is using you as a hurdle as he plays real-life Super Mario around your yoga mat, imagining you are a man-eating plant trapped in a pipe.”
This week’s challenge (contest? no, that’s redundant, you’ll see why) was a writing contest. (See?) The Writer’s Digest Short Short story contest. The deadline was today. I submitted last night. Digital files are a friend to procrastination royalty. I am the Queen of Delays, especially reactions. I might get really angry about something you said or did, but you won’t know it, nor will I, for a couple of days. Ask my patient husband.
The contest was to write a fiction story no more than 1500 words long. Some people might think this is easy. For some it might very well be, but for me it is a small nightmare. So why do it? To dare myself. (That one’s not too bad.) Keep moving, keep writing, even if I don’t like it or understand it. Only the last half of that one describes me and short fiction. I do like it, but I do not fully grasp how it works. It’s like a light bulb. I can see and appreciate when it works, I seek it out at certain times, and when it doesn’t work, it is quite clear to me. I will seek out something that does work. This week I sat down at the desk and attempted to create a light bulb.
I think in long formats, daydream in them. I am working on two novels now, well, working on one, staring at the other in dejected consternation. My first thought was to cheat. What from these novels can I take out and use? “Honey, Mommy only wants your hand for a bit, can you just hold still while I cut it off?” Nope. Wasn’t going to happen. What kind of test would that be anyway? Alright, Allison, just get to work!
I took most of Tuesday just trying to get any picture to come into focus in my noggin. If I can’t see it, I can’t share it, plain and simple. I landed on a boy and his grandpa hiking in the woods. And after much labored writing and wandering around my house (this is why I find it hard to work when my family is home) I finally finished the story.
I am not super tech savvy, so it took me about 30 minutes to submit the story, but it’s done now, and I am pleased. I am pleased not just because I finished it, met a deadline, and pushed through to the end, but because the result is something with which I am happy. I’m pretty sure I won’t be winning any prizes, but I found a rhythm, a reason, a shift in both characters’ lives, and all in that small amount of space. I’m proud of that. Not in the way Leonardo Da Vinci was perhaps proud of the Mona Lisa, but maybe more like Ms. Mona Lisa herself. I have a dull ache in my back and bum from sitting so long, but I also have a slight grin on my face. I’m okay with that.