I type rapidly, probably misspelling ninety percent of the words. But the they flow out of my brain and I need to move as fast as I think them up.
The story writes itself in a sense. I check the word count after I use spell check to, you know, check my spelling. Eight hundred twenty nine words. I need a minimum of a thousand to qualify for the contest, so I rethink my whole plan.
I might be fourteen, but in my brain I’ve been writing for years. If you count pieces of paper that started stories that never amounted to anything in grade school. When I got a phone, at eleven, I started filling up my notes app with folders and words that I wanted to make stories. The biggest one was an unfinished fifty four thousand word story that needed major editing and was in the middle of the unplanned plot. I wanted to make it into something or at least finish it, but had stopped after two chapters of editing.
My best friend sent me a text last week saying that she found a website that held weekly short story contests. I immediately searched up the prompts because I love to write, and came across the one that I am currently working on.
My idea for what I hoped would someday become a novel was a little scene where a family was reunited after being separated for a long time. But it grew and grew and grew to the point where I had so many ideas and no idea how to incorporate them into a plot.
One of my main characters still didn’t have a backstory, and the prompt I chose gave her one. And it was a little bit of a fluffy love story too.
Eight hundred twenty nine words.
I think about it, and come up with nothing. My moment of inspiration is over. I know that if I force the story it won’t come out good, so I close my typing app and go eat dinner with my mom.
I lay awake that night with a million and four thoughts running through my head, a normal occurrence. Though typically it’s about the book I’m currently reading.
I find the event that will put my story over the top, but it’ll have to wait until morning because I’m tired, and manage to fall asleep.
I return to eight hundred twenty nine words the next morning. I have to type the idea quickly, and decide to add it to my story later. I would do it now, but I have school because I’m only fourteen.
My main character goes back to a town that is deserted to see what has happened to her home. It’s mostly destroyed, but she finds a locket her father made for her and it reminds her of her mother and sister, who both died of diseases when she was young. In a side story, you see how she met the love of her life when she goes to dinner at his house for the first time. He finds her in her destroyed home and makes her feel a little better while she has all her memories of her mother and sister.
I manage to get one thousand one hundred seventy six words in the finished story. I edit it quickly, and read through it again. I know I should probably make sure that it’s good from someone else’s point of view, or at least edited the right way, but I submit it quickly because I’m so excited.
The contest works where prompts for the week come out on Fridays. I had written my story and submitted it on Sunday. The submissions close at 11:59 pm on Thursday night. Then the people who run the contest go over and approve the submissions the next week.
I waited anxiously and excitedly because I might win fifty dollars. I checked my email everyday, probably twice a day.
I never got the email saying I won. That’s because I didn’t. Somewhere inside me, I had known I wouldn’t win, but I still decided that the contests held weekly would make me a writer so I kept entering.
Eight hundred twenty nine words. That’s how far my lightbulb moment took me, and I did the rest. I guess you could call that my official start as a writer.
My next three stories were also spinoff stories of bigger ideas I had yet to completely form. They weren’t that good. Or really good at all to me. I rushed them and I didn’t make sure they would make sense to anyone but myself. So I decided that I wouldn’t enter the contests every week, just when I was about to completely make up a new idea for a real short story. That’s when the best I’ve written was done, in my opinion. I have two more after that, both alright, but the second one better.
Looking back six months after I entered my first contest, I realize that my writing skills haven’t changed that much, but I can plot better. That should count for something, especially in the long run.
The novel idea I talked about earlier has shifted and basically become a whole new thing. I’m sure if I ever write enough of it to publish it’ll have been completely scrapped about four more times. Just how it goes I guess. I like the changes I made, and the main character's backstory is still standing. It remains untouched.
That’s how it works, writing grows and reshapes itself and it kinda does it’s own thing. It can be anything you want it to be, and can take many different forms.
I’ve changed my answer to the famous question: “What do you want to do when you get older?” many times, like most people do. I think my personal list includes: gymnast, ballerina, vet, broadway dancer, chef, and various other things. But ever since I started writing, I know that that’s what I want to do with my life. And since I already write short stories, I am a writer.