I’ve done it! I’ve achieved the impossible. I’ve written a short story in one day and, let me tell you, that’s no small achievement.
Sunday dawned grey and damp. Not the most auspicious start to the 2010 NZ Society of Authors’ One-Day Short Story Competition but at least there was no temptation to head for the beach or spend time in the garden.
I had an early start. My daughter and her elaborate project had to be at the Science Fair at 7.30am so the first part of the day was spent dragging her out of bed, feeding her, finding her shoes and bundling her in the car. I had to start work at 9.30am so my very dear significant other made the trip into the Christchurch Art Gallery to pick up my short story instructions and texted them through to me at 10.15am.
And here is the crunch! The story had to be no longer than 1500 words and include the phrase “Wanda fell from the tram and remembered nothing else until …”
My mind went into hyperdrive. Who was Wanda? What sort of parent calls a child ‘Wanda’? A fish is called Wanda. And what was this Wanda doing on the tram? Who travels on the Christchurch tram apart from holiday makers? Diners? Is the tram in Christchurch anyway? Is it on another planet? Could the tram be an alternative to the Hogwart’s express? And she fell. Did she fall or was she pushed?
I finished work at 1.00pm and raced home. I put my hands to the keyboard at 1.25pm. I knew I had to get the manuscript in printed form back to the Gallery by 5.00pm which meant leaving home at 4.00pm. Three hours and 5 minutes. Eeek!
Now you might think I’m making excuses giving you all these details of my hectic day, but I do feel there needs to be some explanation as to why I wrote possibly the worst short story since human beings started scratching in the dust with sticks. I’m not kidding. It was awful. The words flew out of my mind and I didn’t have time to censor them. The time rocketed past. My partner banged on the door at 4.40pm.
“No,” I cried. “I can’t do it. It’s too awful! I give up.”
He wasn’t hearing a word of it. “Finish it off,” he said. “I’ll turn the car around.”
We rocketed through the town at a determined pace. I flew through the Gallery doors with three minutes to spare. The lovely folk from the Society of Authors very calmly took my manuscript and wished me luck. Sweet of them!
The winners will be announced at the presentation at the Town Hall Conference Room on Saturday 11 September at 7.00pm as part of The Press Christchurch Writers’ Festival. I’ll be there! I’m looking forward to hearing the good stories written by fellow writers. The experience has been great fun and I feel proud to be part of this event. I’ve cut my speed writing teeth and am already sharpening my pencil for next year’s competition. I think I’ll book my annual leave now.