I found out recently that I won a 10 word short story contest that I’d entered completely spontaneously and without much thought a couple months ago. I won’t tell you which contest because then you would know my full name, and I won’t re-post the 10 words here because then you would understand that I’m not a brilliant prodigy. Just think of the best 10 words you know and assume that’s what I wrote.
My dad made me recite the 10 words to him this morning and after he just sort of half-laughed and slurped his coffee. He’s an old farm boy, so it’s impossible to tell what a half-laugh and coffee slurp means. Could mean he’s impressed. Could mean he thinks I’m a hack. Could mean the fence needs mending out in the back forty. There’s no telling.
Never mind the story (which is not even really a story at 10 words, more a cryptic tweet or one of those annoyingly vague status updates). The exciting part is the prize was a free creative writing class through a semi-prestigious online writer’s workshop (value: $399!). Is anything preceded by the word “online” capable of being actually prestigious, though? Never mind the prestige: the exciting part is that I will be forced to write this summer. If I don’t write one thing I think is good by the end of the summer, I’m snapping my pencil in two and throwing myself into my Beard Profession (librarianship) with total abandon. [Not that I write with a pencil — the pencil snapping would be purely symbolic and due to the fact that I don’t want to throw my laptop into the James River.]
Somewhere, Lorrie Moore shakes her head at me in the most disappointed way. I once read an interview with her about writing and she is a notorious hard-ass about work ethic, saying something along the lines of, “Any writer who doesn’t work on the craft seven hours a day doesn’t want it bad enough.”
You don’t know me, LM! I want it bad enough! I just also wanted to read comic books and hand wash my bras this morning.