I wrote and edited a story the other day in 2 hours. It wasn’t exactly written out of inspiration, I just really needed to get it done. I had a deadline. See, I can be a teensy bit forgetful with dates, and I had forgotten that the 24th of March was the deadline for submitting a piece to a particular literary magazine. They had a theme that I had been mulling over for a while, just waiting for that lightning strike to er, strike and give me the perfect story I needed. It’s just that the moment someone says that your work has to involve a certain word or theme my brain often starts whistling and looking in the other direction.
So I finished the final line at 11.57 and submitted it via email at 11.59 because I like the thrill of almost wasting my time. I can’t tell you if it’s good or not – I can’t bear to look at it because I just know there are momentous embarrassing mistakes. Here’s pretty much the mental process of submitting to a competition or publication.
“Yes. Yes this is going to good. Let’s sit here and get this done. Let’s get it done! Right. Water? Check. Charged laptop? Check. Logged out of social media that will no doubt distract you? Well, I closed the window at least… and opened it in another page but I totally will not look.”
Wiggling your butt into a comfortable position, begin to type that badass mofo. Furiously smash out an awesome start that could go anywhere that your imagination is willing to travel. Find a style and feel good with it.
One Page Later:
Start to slow down. “Is that a good direction to take the story? No. I can’t think of a different direction though!” Check time. “Crap. I’ll just have to go this way and hope it’s alright. It should be, I mean, it’s only incredibly cliched and overused… Shit.” Begin to sweat a little. Feel your butt wiggling again because inexplicably that position is no longer comfortable.
Mid-Way Through Story:
“Okay, I can get into this… yeah, this isn’t so bad. Alright, let’s get to the end unscathed.” Write with a consistent pace and determination that doesn’t allow you to notice that you have typed ‘grab that bigboo’ instead of ‘grab that placebo’. Check time every five minutes with a rising sense of panic. Realise that your story is going to be way to long to both finish in time and submit.
Almost At the End:
Realise suddenly that instead your story is finishing up. Begin to worry instead that it’s not meaty enough. Scroll up quickly and add some meaty to that middle bit. Start to relax a little when you check the time again to see that you’ve just typed the last sentences with 15 minutes to go. Relax and check a social media site because you’re an idiot. Open email, write up required details and be prepared to quickly hit send after the final save.
Finished and Editing:
“Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness! Why did I type that? Please don’t let there be another spelling mistake.” Check time to find it’s 5 minutes to go, panic and scroll through quickly canvassing instead of critically reading. Tell yourself this isn’t really a problem, that you trust yourself enough not to do that thing where you think you typed a full stop but actually put a semicolon. Twice.
File is Sent:
Breathe a sigh of relief and pat yourself on the back for being that extraordinary that you finished and sent a story in 2 hours. Squash feelings of worry that any story written in that time is actually bad, not good, because now you can exit the program, lay back and turn on crappy television to mind melt to.
The Next Day:
Alternate spasmodically between “Wow, what if I actually do get chosen? That would be incredible. Maybe it will happen, maybe they will like it! In fact, I’m sure they will. I should practice how I’m going to tell my mum.” and “Shit. Why would I send that awful nonsense into an actual magazine? Why would I embarrass myself this way!” Cringe whenever you think of the fact that they send back criticism for the stories they reject, fantasize instead that they will send you an email saying ‘we want to make you Writing Queen of the World, oh Wise One.’ even though your stomach is twisting with bad story shame.
Finally, firmly tell yourself that choosing to change and study a different degree instead of a writing one is a good choice because this writing dream is a deathtrap. Begin panicking about new degree. Wonder what a life with peace of mind feels like…