10 Stories in 10 Weeks

Three orange kayacks navigate the Potomac River, with buildings in the background.
Potomac River off the George Washington Parkway.

These last two weeks I was lazy.  I finished Story #9 and submitted it, but I didn’t do the blog post.  It must have been the heat.  We’ve been in the three digits with lots of humidity.  Makes it hard to even think!  It cooled off a bit today, but all next week, we’re going to be scorched.

Story #9:

This was flash fiction off a prompt and turned into a surprisingly complex story about zombies.  But when I finished the story, I wasn’t happy with it.  I couldn’t tell you why.  I just wasn’t happy.  In fact, I kept thinking that I should hold the story back and not send it out until I figure out why I wasn’t happy.

I sent it out anyway.

It got accepted and will be published in an upcoming issue of Fabula Argentea.

Story #10

This came from an idea I got while in Virginia Beach: a soldier and a mermaid and merged with not one, but two writing prompts.  The first one was “voices in the fog” (honestly, isn’t that a cool one?), and the second was a photo of a rocky shoreline.  The setting became California, and the story on grief and loss and hope.  And mermaids, of course.  It was a very strange story.  Still not sure what I think of it, but it’s on sub, too.

Reflections on what I got out of doing this

It was a little tiring creatively.  At the halfway point and near the end, I was worn out.  I’ve burned myself out creatively before, so that’s always in the back of my mind.  Pacing myself is definitely a skill I have to learn so I don’t end up having to take long breaks to recover.

But I also found that the ideas got more varied the further into the challenge.  I started out with ideas I already had and stories I could redraft.  It was a safety net to get me started, so I wasn’t going, “What do I write?  What do I write?” (though that still happened!)  I started out with fantasy stories, and ended up doing some mainstream stories as well on topics that I would have never expected I’d do.  It was just the way the ideas went, and I followed them.

One of the challenges was that the longer stories of around 3K were harder to do in the week, or at least with the time I was giving them, since I didn’t want them cutting into novel time.  Flash fiction became the “go-to” story, but admittedly, those are harder to find paying markets for.  But at the same time, the strict deadline meant I just wrote and produced a complete story for submission.

What’s next?

One of the things I’ve come to realize is that all this focus on social media and promotion is pretty useless without any stories to sell.  So my focus has been shifting to get more out there and doing less social media, especially Twitter, which I have never liked.  Stories are the real promotion, and that’s what I’m focusing on.