Defying gravity

(See what I did there? Now you’ve got Wicked music stuck in your head. Bwa-haha!)

I did something crazy in September.

I took a running leap at a short story writing contest I likely have no chance of winning. I plunked down 25 cool ones on an application fee and submitted a story to CBC’s Canada Writes Short Story contest. They host this contest as part of the build up to Canada Reads and the Giller stuff (which, and this is what I love about Canada — the U.S. celebrates celebrity and movies at the Oscars; Canada celebrates literacy and great writing at the Giller awards. Just beautiful. Makes me proud.)

This story, “Bridezilla vs. the Monsters,” is one that I was in the process of ebook-ifying for Smashwords for your (free) reading pleasure. I was going to share it online as part of my strategy to build my readership. Instead, I decided to take a shot at winning $6,000, or at least the chance to know that some hot-shot literary judge read it, didn’t like it, but earmarked my name for later reference.

I’m typically hot and cold about contests. Hot because I love money and winning and getting prestige built up behind my name. Cold because I’m not competitive with anyone other than myself, I don’t like losing, and I don’t like wasting my time (and application fee money) submitting something for a contest or publication that will surely reject me. Trying to win a writing contest is like trying to defy gravity (see, I worked my title in), and some days I’m too tired to bother.

And I get it: that’s publishing. If you don’t put yourself out there, you’ll never get noticed. And that’s fine. I know I have to get noticed to make a success out of my fledgling career. But at the same time, I submit this story in the hopes that one person will like it and can convince a panel of industry experts that it warrants attention. Or I post it online for free and get about 300 downloads (the number is an estimate based on the number of downloads I’ve received for my earlier free story, “Fury“).

When I lose this contest (and I surely will), I can post the story online, but until then I have to wait for my rejection. I will format the story to have it ready and perhaps make a special badge for it that reads “Rejected by CBC’s Short Story Contest” or “Loser of the Canada Writes Competition 2014″). And surely it will be rejected. It’s violent, it has monsters, it’s in your face, the character has no first name, there is no mention of it being in Canada. And it’s genre, which I don’t think is a popular thing for a story to be in Canada, which loves literary fiction.

But my story is fun. It’s meant to entertain. So I’ll see if I can entertain just one judge, and if not, I know you, my readers, will be entertained. You’ll just have to wait a few months more.