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A Chance at a Country Life


Recently I’ve been considering writing a short story. I’ve actually got 2 ideas in mind. Both of which are little more than an excuse to flex my pen and give writing erotica a go. Well, Queerotica but you get my point.

After finishing the work I had to do for tomorrow – seriously, I don’t own the company why am I working on weekends? – I decided to kill a little time on Facebook. It’s a great source for funny cat pictures, and keeping up with the funny cat pictures your friends find funny. I remember when it was more than that, but then twitter came along and I got hooked on 140 characters.

Anyway, I saw a link to a group I’m a member of, and when catching up on the latest happenings in the Australian Writers’ Centre group I stumbled across a link to a short story competition being run by Country Style Magazine. Now to be honest, I’ve never heard of that particular magazine before. But the phrase “short story competition” caught my eye.

The short story competition is for original works, not published before, has to be no more than 1500 words and the prize money is $5,000 and having your short story published in a future edition of the magazine. When I read the post I had two thoughts go through my head. The first was “Wow, good luck to however wins that” and the second was “shame I can’t enter.”

It was the second thought that caught my attention. Why can’t I enter? What is actually stopping me from coming up with a short story idea revolving around the central theme of “chance”? Why is the sky blue?

Exactly, my reasoning was “because”. Now, given that I have been wishing on a star on a pretty much nightly basis for an opportunity or chance to move my creativity from stalled in the garage to flying the friendly skies, the fact I automatically dismissed the idea has led me to just as automatically decide I simply have to enter.

Just because I don’t think I can is not really proof that I can’t. The word count – given how I’ve never met a sentence I can say in 5 words without saying it in 20 – could be a problem. But ultimately that’s what edits are for. Why not give it a chance, give my creativity the support I give to everyone else’s.

I had planned today to write a blog. I had no idea what it would be about. I just decided, once I’d finished my paid work, today would be about my unpaid dreams. Writing a blog seemed like a good idea. I left it open to the universe what the topic would be about. I hadn’t expected to write a blog about a short story competition. I hadn’t expected to write a blog about knee-jerk reactions and automatically dismissing the idea of writing something before giving it any true thought.

I realised the other day I seem to live with a vocabulary based on words with “escape clauses”. Things like “try, give it a go, do my best”. All of those are phrases with an inbuilt escape clause. See if you “try” and nothing happens, at least you tried. If you “give it a go” and it doesn’t work out, at least you “tried”. If you “do your best” and the world doesn’t change in an instant, well at least you “tried”.

When you start to pay attention to the thoughts inside your own head, the automatic ones, it’s surprising – at least for me – how many of them have an escape clause. An ability to walk away without injury and without risk.

When I thought automatically that a short story competition wasn’t for me, the escape clause was “well I just don’t have the time. Work is busy, home life is already non-existent. I could give it a try but….”

So, now that I’m aware of thinking with an escape clause, I’m going to have to overcome that. I’ve also got to come up with a short story idea of no more than 1500 words incorporating the theme of chance.

I guess in a way, todays post is about chance. If I hadn’t decided to write a blog after a few minutes down time on Facebook, I’d never have known about the competition, I wouldn’t have written this blog, and I wouldn’t have realised that for all the talk, the ideas are left behind in the instant they are formed.

For those of you who may be interested in entering the competition, here’s the link to the information. Good luck.

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43 year old Australian writer currently working on the first of a planned three book Epic Fantasy series. When he's not writing policy discussions, or tales of swords, Gods, and magic, he can be found making a mess in the kitchen, and turning perfectly good ingredients into crimes against humanity.

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