For the past 2 years, I’ve entered our local library’s Short Story Writing Contest. And, for the past 2 years, I haven’t won…I haven’t even placed. But I have noticed something: all of the winning stories (1st, 2nd, and 3rd Place) have dark and twisted story lines or involve blatant abuse.
I don’t write in that style. I write realistic women’s fiction about women in real life struggles. Sometimes their struggles are emotional, sometimes they’re moral, and sometimes they’re relational. But I try to steer clear of topics that involve blatant physical abuse, or demented lifestyles. There’s enough of that stuff on the news every day. I write stories to escape that dark world.
I write stories that women would feel comfortable sharing with anyone, even their teenage daughters, and not feel the need to tear out pages or be afraid their daughters would be shocked by what they read.
I don’t think you necessarily need that dark stuff to still have a good book.
So here I am this year, contemplating entering the Writing Contest again. Maybe I should write something that would appeal to the judges’ appetite. At least I might have a shot at getting out of the mini slush pile. But that would mean compromising. That would mean not staying true to myself. #authenticlife
How am I supposed to face my children and teach them that who they “say” they are, should “be” who they are, if I am not doing that myself?
Then again, if I don’t enter the contest, then how will I teach my children that a little competition is a good thing, and that losing is okay?
I wrote a rough draft of a story I might enter, but it didn’t sit well with me. Even as I was writing, it felt dark and depressing. Maybe I should start over and write what I’m best at, even if it isn’t what the judges are looking for.
At least I’m being true to myself. I have to remember that besides being a writer, I’m a parent, and someone is always watching the choices I make.