Getting Shit Done

So last week’s round of the NYC Midnight writing contest was an interesting experience for me. I got what were, on the surface, fairly decent prompts: Suspense / A Tattoo Removal Shop / Fried Chicken.

I can do something with those ingredients, I thought. Inspiration hit. A voice spoke upon inside of me. And I just started writing.

It was a great beginning… But where was it going? 600 words in and nothing had really happened. Certainly this wasn’t a story that I could wrap up in just another 400 words to make the 1,000 words limit.

Eventually, I admitted defeat. I’d have to scrap what I’d already written and start over. I went for a drive to think it over. This was mere hours before the deadline. I knew I wanted to come up with something out of the box, something unexpected. Something that would stand out.

In the end, I got an idea that was a little bizarre but hopefully still fits all the contest requirements. There’s no conventionally neat ending where everything is tied up in a bow, but that’s by design and hopefully fits with the vibe of the overall piece… but success is going to depend on individual judges’ tastes. So we’ll see. The next round isn’t scheduled until October, so it won’t be until then that I’ll find out how I fared or receive any feedback. I’m going to try to hold off posting my story until I have all that additional context to also share.

But I am proud of what I wrote. I think I did good. I liked it. I hope I advance to the next round, because I do think this competition is good for me: having a specific assignment, a right word count, and a strict deadline to get it done.

Before then, however, I need to make headway with a horror novel. I have two or three ideas I’m kicking around, but I need to decide which one to tackle first. The goal is something very mainstream, that would appeal to the largest audience possible. So something very cleanly and obviously a scary story.

I’m intentionally approaching this project with a background in screenwriting; this novel should be just as accessible as a horror movie, and could even be adapted into a screenplay and serve as a spec script for me.

Two of the ideas I have are ideas I’ve had for a while. Both are pretty well fleshed out already (one in particular) but part of me worries they both have too much depth and themes engrained there already… maybe it would be better to start afresh with a completely new idea — and one which is just a basic out-and-out horror concept.

I’m going to noodle on that this weekend and hopefully get into the swing of actually putting pen to paper next week. The kids are back in school now, so I need to establish a daily writing routine and actually get shit done.

There is absolutely no reason why I can’t get this novel written by the end of the year. That’s the goal. Stay tuned for updates.