This year I decided not to enter the Debut Dagger contest, even though my calendar has been reminding me of the deadline for months. The Debut Dagger is run by the Crime Writers Association, and is open to unpublished crime fiction writers from all over the world. I’ve entered it twice – in 2006 and 2013. I have had the January 31st deadline on my calendar since November and I was subscribed to the weekly competition emails. Unlike previous years, the realization that the deadline was fast approaching didn’t herald a flurry of activity; there were just too many other priorities. I deleted the reminders from my calendar – and felt immediately a little lighter.
I’m not going to quit entering competitions entirely; I am merely going to shift my focus. Although I love the space a novel allows for exploring characters, settings, and weaving subplots through the main plot line, I find it intensely rewarding to write short stories. I can usually finish a first draft in a day or two, and have it revised and edited within a week, two at the most. I believe that writing short will keep me motivated to write because I can fit it in between all my competing priorities. I prefer to have at least two hours to dedicate to my novel, and finding this block of time is increasingly hard to do.
Earlier last year, I had the honor of both my fiction and non-fiction short story entries winning the Virginia Writers Club Golden Nib awards at the chapter level. This win was extremely motivating, and this year I have set the goal to not only write more short stories, but to submit these stories – both for publication and to competitions.
I haven’t entered many short story competitions, and I’ve only submitted a handful of my stores for publication. I am going to review my schedule and set some realistic goals for writing and submitting my short stories. I will also add any competitions I find to the calendar, with a short blog post about them.
Keeping in line with my goal of writing short this year, I’m signing off for today.
Talk to you soon!