2013 Short Story Challenge

Here’s the challenge:While other people are working

13 short stories in 2013

You can call it one-per-month with an extra if you want. I’ll probably pace myself that way. But the rule is a new short story counts toward the 13 but a revision of anything written before 2013 doesn’t.

(This rule is for me since I have four unfinished stories that need work.)

Can’t recycle ‘em. Gotta start fresh.

Who’s in?

I’ll post links to your stories on the monthly 2013 Short Story Challenge Check Up entry on THIS BLOG.

Facebook-wall-post-me a link to your story and I’ll add it. Or put your link in a comment below or over on Life on Clemson Road.

If we’re serious about getting better at something, we need a plan to study and practice that something. Someday I’ll tell you how I learned football and became a better cook.

Here are some books I requested from the Richland County Public Library to start my short story study:

Homeland and Other Stories, Barbara Kingsolver

What We Won’t Do, Brock Clarke

Carrying the Torch, Brock Clarke

Rock Springs, Richard Ford

The Granta Book of the American Short Story, Richard Ford

The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2012, edited by Dave Eggers

Same boat, need rowers

Leigh Johnson Reed Photography Copyright 2012

You’re the only one who struggles with writer’s block. The first writer ever to crumble a page and throw it to the floor in disgust with your own ineptitude.

You’re the only writer ever to think your work is terrible. The first one to cut and paste and cut and paste and cut and paste until your new draft barely resembles your shitty first draft*.

You’re the only one. No?

What? Every writer experiences the same struggles, doubt, and frustration. Really?

Yep. Even Aristotle’s Poetics underwent about six revisions. Remember he’d never seen an iceberg so the metaphor of exposition being buried beneath the play’s action really didn’t mean anything to him.

We know writers struggle with the process of creation. They tell us. They advise us not to hang our hat on our first effort, but to learn to love revision.

What do they say?

They also tell us about the discouragement of rejection. Stephen King had a nail in the wall on which he skewered rejection letters. When the pile got so thick the pages wouldn’t stay, he pulled that stack down and began a new one. He filled the nail. Filled it. More times than he bothered to count.

We are taught to believe that writers are people of extraordinary talent like LeBron James and Adam Levine. But LeBron doesn’t tell us about the hours spent on his neighborhood basketball court just putting up layups. One right after the next. For hours.

Adam doesn’t tell us about the songs he writes that suck. What we do know is that bands like Maroon 5 usually write about 100 songs for an album they release with just 12 tracks. Just 12 that were “good enough.”

Phew! Good to know!

So let yourself off the hook. There’s no reason to think your very first effort, or even your tenth or fiftieth, or hundredth, is the best you can do.

Read the dirty secrets of successful writers and they’ll commiserate with the frustration you feel. They’ll offer strategies for overcoming it. Annie Lamott* suggests taking notes on index cards and surrounding yourself with them to help you pry out of a tight spot.

Then, after your read how the experts do it, discuss their advice with other novices in various stages of career and creation.

Join the Wordsmith Studio Goodreads book discussion.

This month we’re reading “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers” by Renni Browne & Dave King.

We’ve already read Stephen King and Annie Lamott. Interested in reading one of those? We left the discussions on the boards so you can review our thoughts on those books. We’re happy to continue the discussions there with you as you get caught up.

Connect with a great community of writers, learn the ropes from the masters, and get better at the craft you love. Are you in?

*shitty first drafts and index cards are parts of Annie Lamott’s Bird by Bird.

Other ways to engage: follow @KasieWhitener, join the #wschat on Tuesdays at 6 p.m. EST, http://www.facebook.com/wordsmithstudio