Saturday, February 13, 2016

NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge

This is my third year participating in the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge. There are three rounds, with assignments of genre, character, and subject. In 2014, I got an Honorable Mention, but didn't make it on to Round Two. In 2015, I made it to Round Two. I was hoping for a Round Three placement this year, but I am already out!

I was excited to get the Horror genre, for the first time. But my character and subject assignments pleased me less: a paleontologist and a drug addiction. I mulled it over for the first day and night, trying not to write something too close to Jurassic Park or Jeckyll & Hyde. All my initial ideas seemed too far into the realm of science fiction, and I wanted to make sure I hit the horror notes.

I didn't push. I wrote some story bits, got some feedback, kept brainstorming, but had saved Friday and Saturday for the bulk of the rewriting. Unfortunately, a trip to the eye doctor on Friday caused me to lose many hours - I didn't realize I would be having my eyes dilated, and it took h-o-u-r-s to go back to normal. I had to spend the afternoon at the Fred Meyer's (where the optician is) waiting for sunset before I could even attempt driving! Still, I managed to get to Starbucks and pound out 1049 words, blind.

The next day, after work, I thought I had 8 hours to finish and submit, but I had forgotten to account for the time zone difference, and actually only had five hours. I pounded out nearly 5000 words, a new version of the story I had been tweaking all week, by 8:32 pm (deadline at 9pm PST). I raced through the document, slashing and burning entire scenes, aiming for that 2500 word limit. I made it down to 2499 (close!) and opened the contest webpage. There was the countdown timer, staring at me: 00:00:00... It was 9:02 pm. I had missed the deadline! I jammed over to Twitter to beg for a grace period, but to no response. I had to accept that I would not be moving on at all this year!

It was a costly lesson, but at least I have an interesting story that I can now do something else with. I will let you know when it's available to be read!