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  • nancywaldman

Stretch Goals

Today, looking back at only two subs in January, I wondered why I had the impression of having been unusually productive since the first of the year. Then I remembered: one of those subs was a novel. Sending off a novel excerpt and synopsis is big deal [for me] and way more time-consuming than a short story, so that’s part of my feeling of having worked so hard. The other submission was a new short story that needed a major rewrite after getting responses back from my beta readers. So, taking all that into consideration…that was good and all but…wasn’t there something else?

Oh yes. That little thing called “Weekend Warrior.” This is an in-house contest run by participants of the Codex Writing Forum—specifically Vylar Kaftan along with lots of help from other participants. The challenge is to write a new flash piece (750 words or less) from Friday evening to Sunday night and upload it to the site in order to be judged by your incredibly talented peers. And, to do this five weekends in a row. Whee!

This was my first time and I pretty much hated it. I predicted I would and did not surprise myself. So why do it? My husband kept asking that same question. The answer is that I need to stretch myself. Flash fiction is not my forte, but writing short is a valuable skill that I need to practice. Plus, I know from many years of doing NaNoWriMo that fast writing can be freeing and provides its own kind of magic.

Doing Weekend Warrior was akin to going to Viable Paradise. VP was totally out of my comfort zone–often emotionally-overwhelming and physically-challenging. But the point is not that I was miserable, but that I did it and, more importantly, that it transformed my rather lackadaisical writing habit into a writing obsession. Which is a good thing if you want to be a professional writer. (It also provided me with practical information, access to things like Codex and a tribe of writer-friends to belong to.)

I’m only now assessing the positive benefits of having done Weekend Warrior. It seems that all that fast writing and risk-taking made it easier for me to write new words, finish stories and revise others this month.

So…add to the January output: four new flash fiction pieces in varying draft levels.

The February report is:

  1. One flash fiction draft.

  2. One expanded and revised Weekend Warrior story finished and subbed.

  3. One new story written.

  4. One stalled story finished and subbed.

AND, my late January novel submission got a request for the full manuscript! Polished and sent!

This is me, stretched out of all recognition.

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