By Bob McCrillis
Over the holiday week, the Goddess of Rhamnous, Nemesis, schooled me on my dangerous tendency to hubris.
As you know, I’ve set myself the project of writing a short story every week for a year – as recommended by Ray Bradbury. Quite proud of myself after the first four weeks, I added a page for the resulting stories to my website.
“I’m accepting the Ray Bradbury Challenge,” I crowed. “Just watch how great this will be. My stories will be good and can only get better – and I’ll have fifty-two publishable stories,” said I.
Should have known better.
To stretch my genre skills, I decided that Week Five’s story would be a “cozy” based on my character stumbling upon a serial insurance fraudster. Day after day, I hammered away at the keyboard and produced dreck. It was awful!
Disjointed and wandering, the story was nowhere near its ending – which was still unclear – when I passed ten thousand words. The July 7th deadline loomed and I had bupkes. What to do?
I decided to clear my head by working on the blog post for the week. But the words arson, fraud, discovery, and yes plotless, had jammed the gears of my mind. The little critic that we all have hiding in our mind started in.
“What made you think you could do this?” he cackled. “You should stick with unpublished novels – you can always claim they’re good.” More cackling.
This is the point at which my lack of courage usually causes me to bail out of projects that my arrogance got me into. What the hell, I was the one who set up the task so why couldn’t I just change it?
However, I’d backed myself into a corner by telling everyone on earth what I was doing (and, of course, fishing for admiration for my writing acumen).
The only way out is through. With clenched-teeth, root-canal determination, I murdered most of my story. My Miss Marple went to an early grave. The insurance fraud pretext went up in flames. I admitted that the intricately plotted mystery was probably beyond me and fell back on the action adventure genre with which I’m most comfortable.
The result, Scorpion, is still too long but not an embarrassment. I know how to fix the “too long” problem but I am wildly seeking someone to tell me, “Oh no, it’s perfect the way it is.” Anything to allow me to avoid murdering my first scene.
I’m still behind but, if I can get two out this week, I can catch up. After all, I’m only one week delinquent.