The white arrow, forever pointing north-west, glides slowly down until it reaches its destination. Beneath it is a glowing ‘SEND’ button. The arrow trembles a little; left to right, right to left.
A breath is drawn. A mental checklist is completed. The arrow freezes.
With that it cannot be undone. It has gone now, travelling a million miles an hour to a place of judgement. Now all that is left to do is wait.
In other words, I’ve sent off my 1500 word story CONDOLENCE to the SFX magazine competition. Soon it will be read along with other short zombie fiction, perhaps being deemed worthy of making the final few that get passed to author Darren Shan.
I’ve sent other stories in for competitions before this one but, for some reason, this is the first time that I’ve had butterflies during the process.
Before you jump to conclusions regarding said butterflies I would like to clarify that they were not due to being star struck at the thought of a celebrity in the field of writing possibly reading my work. I’m not denying that I would be ecstatic if that happened because it would be amazing. However, it’s not the reason I was tense clicking on the ‘Send’ button.
You see, as with many wannabe writers, I’m not the world’s most confident person. One of the things holding me back in the past was the fear of showing people my work.
I’ve never thought my stuff was crap. If that had been the case I would have stopped years ago. But I don’t think it’s the greatest ever and that it will go on to sell millions and millions followed by worldwide translations and multiple movie deals being made. Perhaps it can be considered a weakness in this business but I prefer to think of myself as a realist. I know my limits and I’m taking this journey one step at a time.
I’ve accepted that I’m not the world’s greatest undiscovered writer. Anything I’ve sent off before has not been weighed down with any expectation. If I had won anything (which I haven’t) then it would have been fantastic and perhaps fuelled a fire beneath me that I so very much needed back then. But, to date, I’ve never been disappointed. I send something off and get on with something else.
So why the butterflies this time?
Because there’s something different about this one. I’ve liked everything I’ve ever written, good or bad. But I love CONDOLENCE. It’s the little zombie story that could. I’m proud of it not because of what it represents personally as with some of my other stories like IMPRISONED or STAR. I’m proud of the actual writing and the characters and the story. It all works. It might be the best thing I’ve written so far.
And I want to win.
I’ve avoided looking at the story since the night I clicked ‘Send’. I’m scared to find an error that I can no longer fix. The draft wasn’t rushed by any means. I had six beta readers go over it more than once. I’m a little anxious because each of them found different mistakes and their findings didn’t overlap. In fact on the night I sent it in, the wife and I did a final pass each and found three more spelling errors and a line that I wasn’t happy with.
I guess its things like this that have put me off editing one of my NaNoWriMo novels. If this is the stress and worry over a 1500 word short then multiply that up to match something that’s 50,000 plus (I think my beta readers have all just applied for secret relocation).
I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. And I will get to it.
So, come June when issue #250 of SFX magazine hits the shelves I might find disappointment with something I’ve written for the first time. This is what pride in your works feels like.
I guess its fingers crossed and all that jazz.
Only time will tell. In the mean time I’ve got some short stories to finish and take pride in.
See you in seven.