At some point, I became afraid of failing. Is this due to age? I don’t remember being so worried when I was younger. I didn’t like getting low grades on tests and essays, but I’d look at it as a chance to learn. I’d read over every correction and figure out where I went wrong.
Where did that person go? I feel like I’ve been avoiding writing at all because I’m afraid of it being crap. I already know that not everything is going to be a gem. That doesn’t stop me from seizing up and becoming super exhausted at the prospect of starting completely over with a new story.
I needed to do something to shake things up. And so I accepted a challenge to write and publish a story within 8 hours issued by J.A. Konrath. I found out about it on Monday, and
the “deadline” technically was Thursday. I didn’t really start until Tuesday.
But I did it. I am terrified.
My current process for writing things for release: More than a few drafts, polished as much as I think I can on my own because I don’t want to waste the time of my readers. I hand it off to a close friend for content editing. I take it back, make more changes, hand it off to another friend for content and grammar. Get it back, make more changes. Give it to another friend who is an avid reader, and a really great copy editor. Get it back, make a bunch of fixes. And then finally, I hand off a printed copy to my boyfriend and have him go over it in the picky way he does. Get it back, make more corrections. (there are always more to be made!) By the first time I’ve sent a story out, I’m sick of it.
The challenge was to write a short in 8 hours, including doing the cover on your own, the blurb on your own, and the editing on your own. I spent about six hours on the story, one hour on the cover (pitiful), half an hour on the blurb (I did get a second opinion on that blurb over lunch). And then some extra time to print it out and self-edit. I am sure I was over the 8 hour mark, but only if I count all the time I spent staring off into space while sitting in front of my computer. And I’m not.
I present my short, The Hungry:
Twenty years ago, the world ended and no one will discuss it.
Rebecca, a denizen of one of the protected cities, volunteers to join the courier service in order to see out what is beyond her city’s fence with her own eyes. Is she prepared for what she will find?
Aside from one passage where I was concerned about if the action would be clear, I didn’t share any of it with my friends. I just wrote it and put it out there. I’m surprised at my own audacity. I shouldn’t think that I can do this– write something fast and put it for sale.
But I did.
The story came in at about 8,000 words. It’s marked for .99 and is only available on the Kindle. Saturday and Sunday it can be downloaded for free. Come see how badly I have screwed things up!
He runs his hands down my body as he slides my unbuttoned shirt to the floor. The fabric lightly brushes my bare back, and a shiver of anticipation curls up my spine. I stand there as he cusps my breast, skimming my nipple with his thumb, nude before him. He leans in closely, hard body underneath the soft fabric of his shirt. The long hairs on his chin tickle against my jaw. He nips at my neck, grazing his teeth against my skin. I shut my eyes and let him take his time, enjoying the building excitement tingling down my torso. I squeeze my legs together to stop the quaking as our lips meet and begin the ravishing.
It has been this way with no one else, and will never be this way again. This I know, and it causes tears to squeeze out from my eyes now swollen shut. My moan becomes a sob. I run my hand across my stomach, feeling each individual rib between the wrinkles of the thin clothing they have issued to me. I close my eyes and let him continue to ravish me in memory. My hand trails down to my mound, no longer soft and squishy. It is now bony as my body has begun to eat itself. In my memory, he is inside me, waiting. I grab at him and beg him to continue. The vibrations of his laughter travel straight through me, right to the point of our connection.
I tug at the thin fabric of my shirt. A trail of tears grows cold on my cheek. It is either that memory or the one of my daughters screaming out for me while they drag me away, my uncovered feet scraping the asphalt. All of these moments exist at the same time. The only real thing is the cold stone my shoulder blades press against as I lay in my cell. They will come for me again. One of these times I will come back to the present to feel the heat from the guard’s leather boot trapped against my temple seconds before he drags me off. It will do no good. I have forgotten what they wish to know. All that remains are the fragments.
A peek at Cheryl’s story, but written especially for the challenge. This one is going to be really tricky to pull off, but I have several reasons for attempting it. It’s either going to be a story, or it will be a complete train wreck.