Until last year, I never had the nerve to write. A family tragedy inspired me to document the story of my husband’s cousin, a priest who was seriously wounded in Iraq. The essay was relatively simple and took little time. I posted it on a writer’s website and received positive feedback. That was all it took to get me hooked!
Soon after, I found a contest that I wanted to enter. The advertisement said I would get paid to write! All I had to do was come up with a 10,000-12,000 word short story and pay the small entry fee. Not a problem. My power with words so astounding, I believed that I could produce that in a day—two tops. The ideas began to flow and I mapped out my masterpiece. I sat down at the computer and flexed my wrists. Time to cash in. They words began to form, one paragraph then two. Now what? Staring at the screen, I drew a complete blank. I checked the word count. It read 167. That could not be right, could it? A persistent cry of “MOMMY!” made its way down the steps. Oh, well, I had my start. This could wait until tomorrow. Satisfied I flicked off the screen.
The days that followed were much the same. I would turn on the screen, add a few paragraphs or lines until I was needed somewhere else. The laundry really does call your name when it escapes the boundaries of its bins, you know. I began to have ESP when something else HAD to be done.
The two-day project was still in its infant stages two weeks later when I finally began to get serious. I took an afternoon and shut out the rest of the world. Amazingly, the story began to flow and the word count began to grow. This was it! I could see the characters and I knew what was going to happen, now the rest would be a breeze. I could just sit back and wait for the money to roll in.
It was another four days before I had the chance to revisit my award-winning story. My kids had been sick, the church needed painting and our school needed 4 dozen pies for its bake sale. Today was the day. I was going to work uninterrupted until I was finished. Hours later I sat exhausted, spent from pouring my characters so brilliantly onto the page. I just needed to come up with the ending and edit the piece, and then it would be ready. I could hardly wait!
Finally, I sat down and penned an ending to my masterpiece. This was it. Only four days to the contest deadline. I was ecstatic.
I sent my treasured story to a friend for some editing, sure that there was not much that could be done to make it any better. I receive it back the next day filled with red marks and a note: Good start, this has potential. Keep working on it. Emily.
I was mortified! Chagrinned, I made the changes. I wondered if I should even bother sending it in. Reluctantly, I paid the entry fee and sent it off.
I had almost forgot about my little story several weeks later. Life had gone on. I opened the mail unceremoniously.
“Congratulations! Your short story entry has been chosen as an honorable mention in our 2004 contest! Your contest winnings of $50 are enclosed. The entry will be published in our upcoming anthology. Please sign the attached contract and return as soon as possible.”
I danced around the room. My story was being published! AND I was being paid $50! All for just 10,000 little words! All for just writing a story! I could do that again, all it would take would be a couple of days. Then again, $50 for 10,000 words minus the entry fee...oh well, I was never all that good at math. I ran to my computer to get started.
If you died today, are you absolutely certain that you would go to heaven? You can be! TRUST JESUS NOW
Read more articles by Kristin Slavik or search for articles on the same topic or others.