This past year has been all about producing theater – first there was 99 Impossible Things, then Hurricane Season, then Preposterous, all of which – while totally worth it – were exhausting, draining and all-consuming. With 99, I was so overwhelmed by the immensity of the undertaking, I barely enjoyed it; with HS and Preposterous, being only a producer left me feeling sorta left out, like nothing about the projects were mine, since I was not really part of the “creative” end of it. That hurt my creative soul a little bit.
And while working on all of this, I definitely did not get the amount of writing done that I hoped I would. Of course. No news there. So when I came across NYC Midnight’s Flash Fiction Contest and read the description – short stories written over two days based on a genre, object and location the contest assigns to you – it seemed like a prime opportunity to force myself over four weekends to write something – anything. So I signed up.
The first story – “Lenny On Ice” was written over tech weekend for Preposterous. The genre was open, and I had to use a butcher shop and a block of ice. I wrote furiously at the theater and drove to Starbucks so I could email it in time. It wasn’t the most well-received, but I revised it and it became a monologue in our show Signs from the Universe.
The second one I wrote while in the midst of studying for the GRE. The genre was horror, location a rooftop and object a wheelchair. It’s probably my favorite of the bunch and one of my first attempts at horror writing – which is all I read growing up, so it’s a wonder I waited this long to give it a try. “Not My Body” is probably my favorite story I wrote in the contest. And it got me to the second round.
The third story I wrote while helping run Sherry’s wedding (my boss). I wrote it very last minute, though the idea came to me almost right away – and I had to turn it in nearly seven hours early because I had to be in Malibu for the wedding. “Scavenger” was also a horror, the object was a mouse, and the location a private school. Somehow, it got me to the final round.
We were down to the top 25 writers. Our genre was open (so we could write our strengths), the object was a framed newspaper article and the location was a secret hideout. It was hard. Really hard. I was the most frustrated, unpleasant person to be around that day – I wrote it mostly that Sunday because I was being so damn emo about it. It also didn’t help that I was doing National Novel Writing Month at the same time (more on that later). But when I just let go, not caring how the contest came out, just wanting to write something I liked, that I could maybe be proud of, when I just let myself write – it felt great. I chose horror again because everything that came to my mind was really dark and horror had done me good in this contest. What came out was a story called “I See You, Santa Claus”.
And then I found out last Thursday – I won.
I’m a little in shock and crazy excited. I got the feedback and I could tell there were judges that loved it and judges that weren’t so sure – but I’m not surprised at that. I took a risk with this story – I went outside my comfort zone. I just figured I wrote something I enjoyed and was creeped out by at least – so I guess sometimes it pays to not care what other people are going to say.
I have to say I got a lot of inspiration from the book Haunt by my friend Laura Lee Bahr. I didn’t realize it at the time since I was just frantically writing. But she’s an inspiration in her own right. She just got it published and it’s amazing. But it’s not about Santa Claus. It’s far more clever.
The contest really got me energized again, as did NaNoWriMo. I’m ready to take on 2012. More on that later.
And I’m so grateful for all my experiences this past year and all the creative people I’ve gotten to work with. I’m more prepared than ever to really move forward into the new year.
I wasn’t sure if I should post my final story or not, but what the hell. It’s Christmas. And I wrote a damn Christmas story.