A few days later, we’ll be off to Kingston, Ontario. So it’s possible I might be off the grid for a few weeks. But don’t worry. I have my dentist’s prescription safely tucked inside my wallet, in case my front tooth gets too sore. And don’t worry, if it does get too achy, I will fill the prescription and swallow the pills. So there, there, it will be all right.
My dentist has promised me that I can have a root canal when I get back. If I so desire. So, don’t worry, and anyway, the many excellent pubs in Kingston may also help with my tooth therapy.
Of course, I’m talking metaphorically. Because I’m a writer, damn it. I’m talking metaphorical birth. Push, push. Breathe out.
“Okay,” I said to Sue. “Does giving birth last for weeks and weeks? Does giving birth turn you into a neurotic when you’re finished”?
Maybe it does, I don’t know. Does giving birth make your eyes blink rapidly for weeks? Make a teeny-weeny ache feel like the most acute, scary disease that humankind has ever been smitten by? Oh, I could go on and on.
Katherine Anne Porter said, after finishing her novel, ‘Ship of Fools’, “I finished the thing; but I think I sprained my soul.”
I think learning about and trying to write short stories for contests is similar to athletes training for and running the hundred yard dash.
I know people who go walking. I mean WALKING. They read books on how to maximize their stride. They walk a certain distance each day, walk as fast as they can to get the maximum aerobic effect. You see them dropping their heads periodically to check on what their computerized watches are telling them. And those watches can tell you a heck of a lot. Your blood pressure, your heart rate, how many calories you’re using, how many footsteps you’ve taken, how far down your stomach pipe your last granola bar has slid - oh, just lots and lots of data.
I think writers writing for judges can be like those intense walkers or cyclists. They’re trying to reach a goal. To win, and in writing short stories that means making the story super tight and super taut. Big muscles with little fat.
What about the hiker who hikes to see things? To smell, listen, taste, touch and think? That’s how I like to hike or to cycle. To be aware. Not to do a twitter hike.
“Oh look, Bob, there’s a man in a funny looking helmet blowing air bubbles.
“Oh look, Bob, there’s a man in a helmet blowing bubbles.”
“Look, Bob. A man blowing bubbles.” That’s my goldfish twitter feed short story.
Anyway, here are two, oh what the heck, I’ll give you three short story pointers. Start with a big bang and finish with a big summing up bang. And of course, as in all good writing, show, don’t tell.
Have a good week.