It is December Twenty-Sixth. The refrigerator is full, most of the dishes washed. The older children have dispersed to their lives of work and college. The new has not yet worn off the younger ones' toys. And I just finished a goal that I have been striving to do for four years. Not a bad way to end the year (a lot better than the rig-a-ma-roar that was made over the Mayan calendar).
I have been a storyteller for as long as I can remember. When I was in sixth grade, I got in trouble at school for writing a fairytale...in math class. Of course, I got in trouble at home for lying about it and trying to cover up the truth. I think that might have been a prophetic view of my life as a writer. In high school, I took creative writing class, twice. I placed in a regional poetry contest and was honored at the local college for it.
Then the rational side of my mind stepped in. Almost no one makes their living as a writer. Do something more stable and write for your enjoyment. So I choose engineering when I enrolled in college the first time, obviously I did not last long. Life happened in that next decade. Marriage and four children. Writing, even journaling, was a luxury I did not have time for. I shared my secret passion once with my ex-husband. Surprisingly, he encouraged it. Together we even began a couple of romance novels, but the children and my new goal of returning to college interfered.
Another eight years were to intervene before I took up writing again. This time on a fan fiction site dedicated to my favorite author and her vampire world. I soon became one of the most popular players on the site with multiple partners. I even learned to write from the male perspective. I also connected with a couple of writing partners and began a couple of novels. But again life interfered, this time love and marriage again.
This time my passion only hibernated for five years. But again as my world began to crumble, my marriage a bitter shell of the dreams it had once been, my youngest child striken with a debilitating chronic health condition, and my other career in ashes, I turned once more to my first love, writing. This time I discovered a whole new platform at Literotica.
And that first year, I set myself the lofty goal of competing in the Survivor Contest. I set two sub-goals: 1) To win and 2) To write a story in all thirty-five categories. I achieved neither. I did place second, which is not bad for a novice. But I failed to write stories in many of the more challenging categories. Over the next couple of years, I continued to compete in Survivor, but never again with such vigor as my world further disintegrated, my daughter's health deteriorated, I lost another child and went into the dark abyss of depression and anxiety.
This year I once again signed up to compete in Survivor, but something was different. Writing was no longer a hobby that I pursued in my spare time. Since my daughter's health had necessitated me quitting my jobs, I had decided that it was an omen. It was time to get serious about this writing thing. And what better time? Thanks to the Internet and e-readers, self-published was now a viable option. So I committed to that path.
And this time last year, I set three writing goals:
1) To publish a novella every month and three full-length novels.
2) To earn $5,000 dollars.
3) To compete in Survivor with an eye towards increasing readership and trying new techniques and stories.
Again, I did not reach the first two of those goals. But I did publish three novellas this year. And I completed my second novel, this one much better written than my first that still languishes on my hard drive, because it practically needs to be re-written. That other goal niggled at my mind.
Through out the year, I wrote a few stories, less than a dozen, but I did write one for each of the contests. This meant that as I pushed the submit button on my final entry in the Holiday Contest, I earned an extra thirty points and jumped respectably in the rankings.
The year had been challenging. Due to the demands of my daughter's care, I had fallen far behind in my writing goals. While I had finished my novel at Literotica and written in all the contests, I was no closer to that goal than the others. Then I remembered that old goal...to write a story in all thirty-five categories. I had written in eleven. That meant that I would need to write and submit at least twenty-four new stories in less than a month. Could I do it? Could anyone?
But I knew that due to the rule about chapter stories not counting, Survivor no longer fit with my goals as a writer. This would be my last year participating. And that tiny flame flared to life. I wanted to fulfill that goal. Not to win. But simply because I needed to finish something. To check it off my bucket list if you will.
As I write these words, if none of my pending stories are rejected or re-categorized, then I have done it. With five days to spare. I have written twenty-four (this makes twenty-five) stories, almost one hundred thousand words in a month. And most of them are fairly decent. It feels good. No, it feels GREAT. I did it. It might have taken me four years. But I accomplished my goal. And that is what life is all about...not giving up no matter how hard it gets, how tight your deadline.
So if you are a writer, if you want a challenge, a real one...there is a reason that they call it the Survivor Contest. And win or lose, competing will help you to form good writing habits and improve in your craft (please don't go looking at the stories I wrote that first year, thankfully they are under another pen name).
Become a real Survivor and do as I did...write at least one story in every category this year. But please be wiser about it, don't wait to the last moment to make your dreams come true and accomplish your goals.