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Rated: 13+ · Preface · Death · #2194205
This is the preface to my second book of short stories.
On this run through, I won about 20% of the competitions that I entered. That excludes the three competitions that are still pending as of this writing. But it's not safe to assume either way on any ones that are left to be decided. Really, my goal with this one was to get into the thousands of word count, to force myself to write. My only regret is that I didn't write another 60K book like last year. Of course, I wrote a few more stories this time (I believe last year was 45, this year was 49) but, all the same, it's true.

I got a buttload of good reviews (none under three) and there were some sure winners, though not the ones that I would hope to win. It took me 20 days of faithful entries until I got my first win this year, for D-Com Blues. The greatest wins, as far as odds, were David's Lair and D-Com Blues (Both with three opponents beaten). David's Lair was a gratitude story. I wrote it because of my “conservative bias” and my “stop whining” mentality. But it was also a life lesson that nobody ever told me and I had to learn the hard way.

I think the reason why I won for D-Com Blues was because I was writing about technology, and Ninja Turtles. Something that someone my age would find appealing (I'm assuming that the judges are around my age, depressing really). The plot for D-Com Blues is that this new CPU is developed that can predict one's death within five days of it happening.

It's probably something that's been done to death in Science Fiction, especially Asimov, but it was my golden ticket this year. I'm just grateful that I understand English, that I'm coherent and that I have the ability to go for a better life. Nothing else matters. Being strong or attractive doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is that you know you need to change.

But back to the point. I truly enjoyed writing that story. My sense of humor really shines through as well. Later in the story prince says, “will there be pizza down there too?” A TMNT reference I just had to throw in. His group is even called a “foot” in the story. Amazing stuff. Last year, I had this tendency to begin my stories with “What do you think I should do?” I'm glad I avoided that this time. It really helped keep everything fresh.

The most important win of this year was for Troe's deal. I don't think I've ever written a western. I've written a “Bonnie and Clyde” years ago, but I can't remember having written a “roll in the tumbleweeds” like this one. In this story, a self-proclaimed “flyboy” rolls through Phoenix Arizona on his way to Flagstaff. En route, he stops by a saloon that is bordered by the Sherrif's Office. I guess it's a reference to how close I live to the police station. It's almost on the same block as where I eat breakfast.

I guess that's where I got it from. And at the time, I was preparing for a novel about a pilot with a twist (to be written later on this year, October 2019). So I really got to give it up for Troe as he stumps for flying during the old west (without achieving a lobotomy, how insane!) It's difficult to write westerns, especially without relying on tropes. That's why I'm so happy I won. It was a novel story, if only for the flight reference. But it was even more than that. I understand that making my character the best gunslinger in the West was sort of hackneyed, but it told a better story. I sort of saved it when the Sheriff calls him the “best legal killer.”

Which story was hardest for you to write, and why?

Uh, the first one. I have to preface this by saying that I'm blessed to be an easy writer. I was able to write a 1000 word story and a full 40-line poem for almost every competition I entered. On every one I did the maximum (except for Poetic Traditions, but that's the exception that proves the rule) I'm an easy writer now. And that's even spilling over into my novel writing and song writing. But more on that later. Yes, I'm an easy writer. So when I say that a story was “hard” to write, you should take that with a pinch of graphite salt. The hardest thing about The Black Dragon was rousing myself out of idleness and forcing myself to put out 1000 words. My excuses prevented me from having a 40-liner for that competition as well, so I was really dependent on that one story winning. It was ignored by the judges, but it is now the fourth-most-viewed item in my portfolio.

One could argue that I should've said that Happiness and Happiness Companion were the hardest, but I would disagree. It is true that I was running blind when I wrote that duo, but I had an alterior motive as well. Part of my personal goals for June 2019 was to write a story about Happiness. I happened to be at home Sunday without a prompt, so I took the initiative. There was, of course, a half-assed attempt to “adapt” the story to the hitherto unknown Writer's Cramp prompt the next morning, on Monday, but that was an utter failure. I got good work and a couple of 4-star reviews for the pair, so it was really “easy money,” so to speak.

Actually, the only hard part about writing comes after the writing is complete. That's why I have to keep entering these competitions again and again. When you put your writing on display, it's a part of your brain on paper, or on a screen. You're giving the most vulnerable part of you. True, I have written many autobiographical fiction stories. And when it's completely ignored, or when the judges go so far as to give the win to somebody who completely ignored the prompt and not even read your work when you have twice as much work done, it does something to your mind. You have to deal with rejection better if you want a better life. If you ask 7 billion people – individually, in person - for 1 billion dollars each and one of them gives you a million instead (one one-thousandth of that), are you a failure?
© Copyright 2019 John Andrew Jenkins (johnjenkins at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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