Last week was a good week for me as a writer.
I wrote a blog post for the first time in over a year! Even more exciting, I wrote a short story for Yeah Write, a weekly writing challenge. A whole short story. From beginning to end. I actually got to the point where I could go back and revise and edit. Revise and edit!
It’s short, less than 750 words (per the submission guidelines). But the shortness was the point. I have struggled so much with finishing things that the relatively small word limit appealed to me. Seven hundred and fifty words seemed long enough to be able to develop a well thought out story, but short enough to be feasible. It took some of the stress off.
These are small wins, but small wins are still wins. They might even be some of the most important wins because they add up to the big things.
For some perspective on why this is so exciting for me, let me tell you about a story I started in September of this past year. I got the idea during the Story A Day writing challenge from a daily prompt on the site. The prompt was to write the ending of a story, which I did, but it inspired a whole story for me. Not wanting to lose the idea, as I’m apt to do if I sit on it for too long, I sketched out what would happen from beginning to end so that I was would have the framework of the story. I knew that if I had the beginning, middle, and end, I could pull it all together and fill in the prose, turning it from a synopsis into a story.
I still haven’t finished that story.
That I started in September.
For challenge involving writing a story a day.
Needless to say, I’m pretty excited.
Now, to my credit, I have been trying to work on it fairly regularly, and it’s a longer story. It will probably be between 3000 and 5000 words when I’m done. And I’ve had some sticking points that I couldn’t figure out. Some I’ve only recently been able to work through. And that’s okay. I’m still excited about that short story and there’s a lot that can happen with it.
But I needed this win.
For as long as I can remember, I have loved to write. Before I knew how to write, I scribbled on paper pretending to write. Once I learned to write, it wasn’t long before I started writing stories and poems.
But even as child, I struggled with finishing anything longer than poem and was easily distracted by new ideas. I was also very unorganized as a child and frequently lost my writing.
I continued to write as I got older. Most of my writing was journal entries and freewrites, and very few finished pieces. (Though there was a period in high school in which I wrote many terrible poems.) I wasn’t consistent, often going weeks or months without writing so much as a journal entry. But I always went back to writing. In the back of my mind, there was always a voices that whispered “write”.
Shortly after college, finding myself with largely useless degree and few marketable skills, I found myself at a job that made me miserable and barely paid the bills. I became obsessed with finding a “career”. Everything else had to be second. I went a year or more barely writing a thing. After moving across the country with my boyfriend, I found it harder to find a job than I though it would be. I ended up being unemployed three months.
A human can only spend so many hours in a day looking for jobs and putting in job applications. I found myself writing again. And I knew I couldn’t stop again this time. That was two and a half years ago.
Several months of self-doubt, games of mental ping-pong, and long discussions with my boyfriend, I decided that the only way I could be happy was if I made a career in writing and publishing. I spent years trying to find something else that would make me happy because, as everyone ever has told me, “It’s too difficult to make a living writing.”
Ever since then, my priority has been writing. I accepted that this is what I have to do. I haven’t always been as consistent or as productive as I would have hoped. But I keep trying, and I keep learning more and more about how I work and how I can be better. And finally, after two and a half years of trying to get my writing groove back, I wrote a short story of 734 words.