by J. A. Buxton
For years I've entered this daily contest, and now I'd like to explain why I do this.
|First of all, I'd like to thank The Cramp for providing a one-day prompt contest. My patience quota is that of a gnat, a very small gnat. Over my long working career, many reviews by supervisors commented about my lack of what I consider this overrated quality. For this reason, finding out within 24 hours if a story I submitted won or lost was a perfect writing vehicle for me.
My multiple entries to The Cramp began back in 2005 when I joined WDC. The first tentative story for this contest was My Dream Lunch, an imaginary lunch with a dead celebrity. There is no record if it won, but I sincerely doubt it did. My writing back then was a bit sloppy with extremely long sentences and a plethora of passive verbs. On rereading some of my portfolio pieces written in 2005 and even 2006, I find myself wincing in embarrassment.
Over the years I wrote probably hundreds of stories, most of which found their way into this daily prompt contest. After the contest for that day ended, many of these entries of 1,000 or less words were expanded and included as chapters in my various novels. I was raised to never waste anything, even short stories. Mum would be so proud of me for doing this!
Some contest entries won, most lost, but every one taught me how to improve my writing skills. I learned to edit my longer stories down to meet The Cramp's word count rule. You have no idea how it hurt me to cut out so much of my "brilliant" prose to reach this requirement. By doing this, I also learned to not ramble as badly as I did back in 2005. Okay, so I still ramble more than some reviewers like, but like all who enjoy writing, I am a work in progress.
Eventually my portfolio became filled with these contest entries, and a few of my more faithful reviewers suggested I collect some of them into a book. At that time I'd already self-published my first book, Home of the Red Fox, and felt comfortable working with that online publishing company. After picking some of the winning entries and even a few the Host for that day's contest failed to recognize as a work of genius, I finally settled on 52 short stories. That is how my second book, 1,000 Words of Less, became an homage to my favorite WDC contest. Since it was published, first as a paperback and then an e-book, it keeps selling a few copies each year on both Amazon and Smashwords. Perhaps some WDC members who got this book headed over to The Cramp for the first time. I also would like to think readers who were not WDC members discovered Writing.com and decided to join because of my little book.
Without The Cramp as daily inspiration, I doubt if I would have had the nerve to continue writing all this time. Even today, when my imagination isn't as sharp as it used to be, I check my favorite contest around 9 a.m. Pacific Time. My hope each morning is to see if that day's prompt will inspire me to write once more.
Hosts of The Writer's Cramp, please don't fail me in 2014.
Entry on 01-23-2014 with W-C of 548 in the following contest: