But I never put my fiction writing on the back burner. Sometimes it’s so much easier to write stories you make up. You don’t have to do interviews or much research. (Of course, that depends on your subject. But when you create your own worlds, you can create your own history, too.) And your characters don’t insist on seeing what you’ve written before it’s published or cop an attitude when you tell them it’s against policy to let them see the unpublished piece or complain about what you’ve written. Writing fiction – what I wanted to write, how I wanted to write it – was kind of like a palate cleanser, taking away the stress of writing nonfiction. It honed my skills and was also just plain fun, watching worlds develop and letting my muse take over with sometimes surprising results.
I’ve had really good success with nonfiction articles. I’ve even been in several volumes of the Chicken Soup series. But if someone asked me, “What do you ultimately, truly want to write?” I would have to say fiction – children’s stories, YA (young adults) novels, chick lit, even romances. I’ve sent queries and packages to different places with no nibbles, only a collection of nice rejection letters to show for my efforts. I’ve been thinking lately that the question to ask is, “Do I want to be published or do I want to just write for myself?”
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This past week I got a much-needed shot in the arm and a big dose of impetus. I entered a story in the Carnegie Literary Center’s recent Short Stories Only contest and won second place out of 40 entries. You cannot believe how great that second-place finish made me feel. When my name was called, I almost burst into tears. It was like vindication. It was affirmation. It told me I can write a good story and I mustn’t give up my dream of getting a book published. I have to keep writing because one day – soon, I hope – that dream will come true.
Several years ago I came upon a Bible verse that smacked me right between the eyes with its profoundness. It said: “You don’t know what things you do will succeed. It is even possible that everything you do will succeed!”
I am claiming that verse again. Remember – you gotta believe! And I do.