This year I wanted to try to write some fiction. I used to feel like I’d never be a “real” writer if I didn’t write fiction, because that’s what “real” writers write. But fiction felt so unnatural to me – I practically think in blog post format, and I can write a column or a memory essay with ease, but dreaming up brand new people? And having them do things? Just felt so awkward and weird.
Eventually I got a few paying gigs for my non-fiction type writing and I was so, so happy about that. I definitely felt okay referring to myself as a writer, even without the fiction banner over my head.
But something still nagged. So this year I finally felt I’d moved beyond all expectations and pressure, and was ready to just dabble away, write a whole bunch of crap, learn a thing or two, and see if it led anywhere.
I started a few projects but then I got caught up in contests. I heard of a few and thought it was a good idea for me to have a deadline (DEFINITELY a good idea) so I wrote a few pieces as contest entries and sent them off. And of course, most of them did nothing, but I was happy with them, happy enough to be encouraged to continue.
So my point here is, one of them actually won something – I placed second in the Adult Fiction category of the Winnipeg Free Press Writers’ Collective spring contest. And let me tell you, it is VERY gratifying to have someone else actually like one of your stories.
More than enough encouragement, in fact, to keep me continuing for a good long while at least.
I feel really exposed just talking about this – like it’s some deep dark secret I should keep hidden. As if it’s embarrassing, somehow, to want something and work towards it. The fear of being mocked is huge, and it’s so strange how showing people my fiction writing feels so much more naked than sharing actual real-life events from my own life. I’m fragile and easily hurt and raw when I make up stories. I guess all writers are, although you always feel so much more exquisitely less than in your own life, don’t you?
Anyway, it seems sad that no one will ever see it but the judging committee of the contest and my reader friends Lee Ann and Jen. So, story here, if you’d like to read it.