Yep, that about sums up how I feel after the 3rd and final round of the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge. The 24-hour deadline was as crazy and exhausting as I thought it’d be. However, I handled it much better than I thought I would. Creating a detailed battle plan prior to the contest’s kickoff on Friday night helped me maintain my focus, stay hopeful, and finish on time.
The first step of my battle plan was to think of a few ideas before receiving my assignment, just in case one of them could be molded to whatever prompts I received. Well, I got lucky. The concept I really wanted to go with fit the prompts:
“Open” genre meant I could pick whatever genre I wanted. And I knew without a doubt I’d be writing a suspense, horror, or drama (or mixture of all three). So, I got to work. I received the assignment at 10 PM MST, and by 1 AM, I had an ugly first draft. I forced myself to go to bed after that, but by 4 AM I was up again. I was so anxious! I grabbed a cup of coffee, gave myself a pep talk, and returned to work. And I didn’t stop for over 13 hours. I even forgot about that tiny, but important step in my plan to eat. Whoops. I remembered breakfast, but I spaced eating anything else until after 3 PM. That’s when I stood up to get some water and had a serious, “Oh crap, I’m gonna pass out” moment. LOL! Yeah, I’m an idiot. I snagged an apple and a lot of peanut butter, took a shaky breath, and returned to work. I had to. The clock was ticking!
Honestly, I couldn’t have made it through the agonizing day without my mom. She. Is. Awesome! She came over around noon and sat there with me to edit my story. We read it again and again and again, chopping and tweaking and fine-tuning until I had a solid draft to send to my beta readers. Somehow, I was right on schedule with my battle plan, and I sent it to them around 2 PM. Within an hour, feedback returned from all four of them. Overall, their critiques were positive! But, as expected, there were problems too. So I spent a couple of more hours revising.
A little after 5 PM, I hit my breaking point. I said, “That’s it! I’m done. I’m submitting it!”
I know I had until 10 PM to send my story in, but I was literally sick to my stomach from exhaustion. I just wanted the burden off my shoulders. So I hit the submit button and FINISHED!
*cue Rocky theme song*
So, as for the story itself: I’m happy with it, especially considering the 24-hour deadline and the strict 1,500 word count (by the way, my final draft came out to 1,483 words–woot!). Anyways, I came up with my idea from something my pastor said during a service a couple of years ago. Yes, years. I’ve been wanting to write a story based off his beautiful, yet tragic words for a long time. I finally found my chance.
I’ll admit, I was an emotional wreck for most of the day while writing. In fact, the first time I read my story out loud with my mom, I burst into tears. And I’m not a crier. My mom even asked, “Uh, are you okay?” I couldn’t speak, so I just nodded and motioned for her to keep reading. Well, then she burst into tears and we cried together. Doh! Yeah, we were a big blubbering mess. However, the more times we read it, the stronger we became…Nonetheless, no matter how hard we tried, one or both of us would lose it at the very end. For my mom, it was one specific line she couldn’t get over. For me, I was so darn tired, anything remotely emotional pushed me into Weepville.
I hope others, including the judges, feel the same emotion we did. If not, oh well. This is one of those stories that truly means something to me, so if others don’t care for it, it’s okay. I will still hold it near and dear to my heart.
So, that’s that! I survived the CRAZY 3rd round of the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge. Even if I don’t place, it’s okay. I just feel so blessed I was able to participate in each round of the contest. And, seriously, I’m still overwhelmed I placed in the top 40 of the 1,000 writers who initially entered.
Once the contest gives me the green light to publicly share my story, I’ll post Into Paradise here. If you have a chance to stop by and read it, I’d love your feedback!