So, I have been procrastinating on this since late October. I want to enter the Toronto Star Short Story Contest. I DESPERATELY want the grand prize, tuition to the Humber School For Writers. I know it is a long shot to actually win it – but I will kick myself (like I do every year) if I don't send in a submission. The deadline is December 31.
So, my main problem is, I have a few general ideas, which could work. The problem? The short story contest is more of a short-short story contest – entries can not be longer than 2500 words. The short-short story is a different beast than a regular short story. You don't have the time or space to flesh out an entire plot with fully realized characters, conflict & resolution. That is why I am stuck.
Normally, I would lay the groundwork before even starting by putting down on paper the entire character's history – their motivations, their past, etc. But it seems like this will be more of a snapshot of a moment in time rather than a full-on story.
I read over the winners from last year, and most seem to have some sentimental theme – fine, I can do that. I have things in my life I can use as the basis. So, here are my ideas:
1. Originally, I wasn't going to write anything personal at all. It was just going to be a basic story about a woman whose husband died, so she retreats to their cottage and, in her grief, thinks she sees him in the water, so she goes to 'save' him but accidentally drowns. Sentimental? It could be. But it's not something I would be writing 'from the heart'.
2. I could simply write about my dad dying, on the way to his funeral, imagining all the times he had travelled these same roads, seen these same skies, etc. etc. Am I afraid to tap into those things? A little. But I think I could do it.
3. Chris gave me an idea about how anytime (except once, which I don't even remember because I was probably about 6) I have ever gone to my dad's hometown was for a funeral. Either my Grandma's or his. Or when I went for his actual burial 4 months after the funeral. Or back a few summers ago on our way home from Tobermory to put flowers on his & my Grandma's graves. So, he thought I should write about that – how I want to love this small town, but that I struggle with it because of the connotation it holds.
4. I could take the very thing I noticed yesterday – in typing out my Grandma's story that we sound very much alike in our writing – and use that as the main thought/theme. How I pushed aside my own writing for years, how I have always felt that regret, how by reading her story, and an article about how she kept writing even as her health deteriorated, how those things inspire me. And the fact that her name is also one of my middle names could be woven in there somewhere.
So – do any of these sound do-able/appealing? Obviously, I want to win this contest – but I don't want to completely cater to what I 'think' they will choose as the winner. I still want the story to mean something to me.
Anyway, if you are interested, these are the winners from last year.