Well, it finally happened, everyone. The worst case scenario struck this weekend. I received political satire as my genre for the 2nd round of the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge 2014.
As usual, I went to bed on Friday night without looking at my assignment–the last thing I needed was to be kept up half the night with swirling ideas. Around 4:30 a.m., my nerves woke me up. Unable to stand it, I turned on my tablet to find out what my new prompts were:
My mind went blank.
Then it quickly screamed:
Ugh, I had so been hoping for comedy or sci-fi. Or, heck, even romance. ANYTHING but political satire, because 1) I don’t know jack about politics, and 2) I’ve never tried writing satire.
I ended up throwing myself back into bed, curling up in the fetal position, and battling between despair and anger for a solid hour. It. Was. A. Disaster! In fact, for a serious moment, I even considered throwing in the towel and giving up…
But, darn it, I’m competitive. And I wasn’t willing to just roll over and die. So I got over myself, and I went to work.
Thankfully, I happened to overhear a rant about a current event the day before, so I had a topic to use as my story’s inspiration. I pulled up Google and began educating myself on it. I spent most of Saturday morning reading articles and watching a Congress hearing on C-SPAN.
I know, it sounds borrrring, but surprisingly, everything I read and heard was fascinating. Better yet, it was mockable. There was one particular quote that inspired my story’s entire theme. Hint:
After a wicked case of Distractionitis (Facebook, Twitter, chores, etc.), I battened down the hatches and whipped out a first draft.
Now, normally I will revise a first draft at least a couple of times before I send it to my mom, AKA, Mrs. Harsh Beta Reader. This time, however, I broke tradition and asked her if she’d come over to my house to read it/help me revise it. I didn’t want to waste time revising a story I had zero confidence in.
To my complete shock, she loved the first draft. In fact, she was crying she was laughing so hard at some of my jokes. I cried with her, but I think that was more out of relief than humor 😉 We edited the story to a semi-solid draft and I sent it off to a couple of other beta readers, one of whom had way more experience in political satire than me.
Their critiques came back positive, but the one who had political satire know-how said my story was too funny. Satire is supposed to suggest, not slap the reader in the face with comedy.
So, I revised it and tried to tone things down.
Honestly, I would’ve needed to start completely over to make my story more “satire” funny than “HAHA!” funny, and I wasn’t going to do that. It was late and I was exhausted. Plus, I liked my story–for what it was–and I figured the chances of getting any points for it in the competition were slim-to-none. So why not write a story I liked–even if it didn’t meet the traditional standards of satire?
On Sunday morning, I sent my beta readers a polished version. One of them still thought the humor needed to be toned down and a specific aspect needed to be deleted, while the other thought the story wasn’t as funny anymore and thought that specific aspect needed to be emphasized.
So, I decided to leave the story as is. HA! I ran through it once more and submitted it. Done and done!
Now, is this the best story I’ve ever written? NOOOOO! Will it get me points? NOOOOO! Am I proud I sucked it up and wrote a political satire? YES!
One of the main reasons I do this competition is to push my boundaries and experiment with various genres. And although political satire wasn’t one of the genres I wanted to experiment with, I’m glad I did. It challenged me in ways I’ve never been challenged before. Plus, I learned a lot about a current event I wouldn’t have known much about otherwise.
Hopefully people will read my story and enjoy it, even if it doesn’t fit the traditional political satire standards. I plan to post it here in a few days. For now, here is the title and synopsis:
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: It’s the 21st century and time for a new, inviting strategy for the Secret Service. But Director Peterson’s plan might be too Disney for special agent Prouty.
Okay, normally, I don’t offer explanations for my stories. But since this is a political satire and not all of us are on the up-and-up of various current events, I wanted to give you one to–hopefully–improve your reading experience.
Operation Disney is based off of Julia Pierson, the recently resigned Director of the Secret Service.
Since she was hired back in 2013, there have been multiple security breaches. Some of these include: An armed man hopping the White House fence, running across the lawn, and entering the property through an unlocked door. A construction worker/felon being allowed to share the same elevator as the President (and snap photos of him with his phone). And, finally, a series of gunshots echoing outside the White House that were blamed for a car backfiring (five days later, a maid found a window in the President’s private residence damaged from bullets).
On top of all of that, Pierson made this comment (and it’s this comment I based the tone of my story off of):
Hopefully that explanation helps some of you enjoy Operation Disney more! Thanks in advanced for reading and providing feedback. I appreciate it.