Writers of the Future, Q2 Entry

Almost every unpublished or barely-published genre writer I know submits regularly to the Writers of the Future contest, an award limited to promising writers who lack “pro” publication credits. The funny thing about this is that non-writers are pretty much 100% unaware of the contest, and would be surprised to hear it’s considered so prestigious, or such a top-tier market for aspiring writers. I assume the award’s high standing is mostly due to the comparatively large monetary award (up to $1,000 for a quarterly win plus up to $5,000 more for an annual win), but even for less money-focused writers the award is considered something you’re expected to shoot for until you’ve had enough professional publication credits that you’re no longer eligible.

Though I respect the list of more established writers who have made their way up through the WOTF awards, and have been entering every quarter for a little over a year, I also realize that many of my own favorite writers never won, so I won’t be too heartbroken if it never happens for me.

Today I received notification that I received an “Honorable Mention” for my Q2 (this is actually the quarter ending March 30th) entry. All my previous entries had been outright rejections. Aside from the overall winner and 2nd and 3rd awards, WOTF gives “Finalist” and “Semi-Finalist” and “Honorable Mention” awards, so while I didn’t quite reach the highest tiers, this is still a nice bit of positive feedback. Just yesterday I submitted my Q3 story, so maybe after a handful of rejections, I’ll climb up from HM to SF to F to The Winnah!

Catching Up After Much Distraction

I’ve just finished a long string of social obligations and family activities, with travel for both my wife and myself (separately) right in the middle, but things are finally settling back to normal. I’ve been taking advantage of the opportunity to be extremely productive on several projects that have been hanging over me, nagging, for several weeks.

This week I finished a major re-work of a story I had previously considered “finished,” and which I had sent out to several markets and received positive notes from three different editors… but which I decided lacked a strong enough ending to pay off all that led up to it. I chopped a bit of earlier material (including the beginning, which started too slowly), rearranged two middle scenes, and then wrote an entirely new development which I feel delivers a much better emotional impact. Before, the story just sort of trailed off into a dissolution of conflict, and now things twist and twist and seem to let up, then finally twist some more.

I’m still waiting to hear back on my Writers of the Future submission, but I don’t want obsess over it. I’m also doing revisions on my Writers Weekend story ‘The Long Tightrope,’ taking into account many of the comments I received in critique, and in fact this story is in the same “world” as my WOTF story. All this work in that milieu recently has me thinking of jumping into it for one more story, but then I have in mind to write a novel in that world at some point, and I’m reluctant to “steal” my own novel-worthy ideas and spend them on another short.

Speaking of novels, I’ve made the decision I’m going to start writing one by the end of this year, not in a full-steam effort forsaking all else, but alongside continuing efforts in short fiction. Originally I had planned to wait until I’d achieved substantial publication credits before bothering with a novel, but I feel a real “itch” to explore this story, which has a more “fun” feel to it than my often more ponderous, internalized stuff. I think too many unestablished writers worry too much about career-planning and not enough about the joy of creativity, and following the ideas that get you excited.

At this point, I try to make it all about fun and following my nose.

The novel I’ll most likely start is not the concept I mentioned above (linked to my WOTF story and my Writers Weekend critique story), but another one linked to a different short story. This one is near-future SF with a lot of adventure and intrigue and ass-kicking, very heavy with the testosterone and the weapons and definitely more FUN than SERIOUS. I’ll spill more about this one here soon, but the working title (one of those working titles that I just know won’t end up being the finished title) is “Third Life.”

Other than that, I’m very relieved to be free of obligations for a while, and I’m taking advantage of the available time to crank out a lot of revisions on several almost-finished stories this month. It’s my hope that I’ll have at least ten manuscripts out to market simultaneously in the next month or two. The addition of daily morning writing sessions (instead of just on the weekends, an the occasional weekday evening) has really increased my output and my focus. Obviously I’m hoping this will pay dividends, and help me level-up “editors say nice things when they reject my stories” to the “actually starting to sell stuff once in a while” threshold.

I’ll post something more coherent soon, but here’s a quick, messy brain dump since I haven’t checked-in for a while.