Saturday, September 28, 2013

Stuff and fluff is on cloud nine

The week that was ... was fantastic. I reached a goal I've had for five years, which goes to show that insane determination eventually pays off. Because of the congratulations that have poured in, I might fool myself into thinking I actually won Writers of the Future, but no. Five unlucky finalist stories every quarter don't make the cut. Over and over, I've watched this happen to friends and writing colleagues. So I'm not straining too hard to pat myself on the back just yet. (Besides, the scoliosis makes that kind of difficult.)

But, for a moment, a happier thought. Writers are told to use visceral reactions, but rarely do I experience a big visceral reaction like those I put into almost every story. On Wednesday night, I did. The phone rang about 8:30 p.m. while I was stuck in stop-and-go traffic in a construction zone on the interstate. The caller ID said "unavailable." I was pretty sure I knew who was calling, and then was more sure when the person left a voicemail. After five long miles, I pulled off at my exit into the parking lot of a gas station and listened to the message. If I were to write what happened next as a scene in a story, it would go something like this:
She snapped shut her flip phone and stared at the hastily written phone number on the scrap paper in her lap. Her chest tightened. Something between a sob and a hiccup escaped her lips. Then another sob, and another. No, this wouldn't do, not sitting in her Corolla under the harsh lights of the Conoco parking lot. She took deep breaths, and when she was calm again, she dialed the number.

"Hello?" said a woman.

"Hello," she said in a casual, friendly tone. "May I speak with Joni Labaqui, please?"
So there you go. Yep, I almost cried.

Submission this week: None. One last week, though.

And now I'm off to finish polishing my next Writers of the Future entry, which is due in three days. One of these quarters, I'm not going to push it right to the deadline.

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