Writing Challenge: Round 2

If you’ve been keeping up with my writing challenge updates, you know that I got the results of my NYCMidnight Flash Fiction Challenge Round 1 story on Wednesday and then feedback from the judges on Thursday. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go read this and this first.)

Round 2 then started at midnight EDT Saturday when I received the email informing me of my next assigned genre, location, and item.

(The nice thing about living on the west coast is that email arrived 9pm my time, so I had several hours to think about it before heading to bed.)

My group got romance, garden, and telescope. In other words, the story must be a romance primarily set in a garden and at least mention a telescope.

I immediately saw the garden and telescope, but had no idea how the story went. The first round story just came to me all of the sudden, like a flash. I simply had to write it down and then edit it for length. But this time, I struggled to conceive an idea.

Romance isn’t my writing genre.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I love a good Hallmark movie. (Who doesn’t love the Hallmark Christmas movie marathon weekends?) I cry every time I watch The Notebook. I admit I’ve read a Nora Roberts book or two. I’ve even written stories where I included a romantic interest. But writing a romantic interest in the middle of sci-fi action novel is not the same thing as writing a romance story.

But I digress.

I struggled. I thought about it Saturday morning as I reread the Round 2 email. But I wrote nothing.

I could see the garden. I had the garden all planned out in my mind, including where the telescopes would be placed. (It’s really a lovely garden, with a little bit that gated park in Notting Hill, a little bit the Secret Garden, a little Central Park, and a little bit labyrinth-esque.) But for the life of me, I could not see the rest of the story.

So I did what I normally do, I ignored it and went about my Saturday as if I had nary a care in the world.

I admit I’m normally a procrastinator. Procrastination is my typical MO, particularly when it comes to writing. (Hence the sporadic blog posts.) But if I’m being honest, some most of the struggle was from my Round 1 results. I got 0 points. And despite NYC Midnight assuring that everyone still had a chance to move onto Round 3, I felt I had already lost. Even if I placed first in Round 2, I’d still only have a total of 15 points. And since I didn’t place at all in Round 1, I felt the odds of me placing in the top 15 in my group in Round 2 seemed astronomical.

In other words, I was seriously doubting my writing ability.

So this morning, I gave myself a good lecture. Since I’m trying to practice mindfulness and positivity, I took this as an opportunity to use what I have learned. I told myself:

  • Writing is always a good thing. I need to write every day and this provides me an excellent writing exercise.
  • This gets me out of my writing comfort zone and will help improve my writing.
  • The challenge isn’t over. Despite overwhelming odds, there’s always a chance.
  • Even if I don’t place in Round 2, I still will end up with two short stories that I can continue to work on and make better.
  • My mom still likes my stories. Or she’s a good liar. Either way, it still makes me feel better.

So this morning, after I lectured myself, I sat down and wrote.

Well really, I started looking through some of my old NaNoWriMo projects. I reread some of the romantic interest scenes for inspiration and maybe plagiarism. (Although technically not plagiarism since I wrote them and none of them have actually been published.)

Then I started writing.

Let me tell you, writing romance is not as easy as it seems. I now have new admiration for the queen of romance, Nora Roberts. Despite the formulaic plot of most romance novels and movies, actually writing a romance story is rather hard. I don’t think I’ve ever completely rewritten a story before. Seriously, I completely rewrote it 4 times. The first three times, no matter what I did, I couldn’t get it under 1,000 words. I finally had to come at it from a completely different angle to get it under the word limit. The only constants in all four versions were the garden, the telescope, and the main female character’s name.

Fifteen minute ago, after rereading my story out loud for the fifth time and double checking the word count for the nth time, I finally submitted it. Now the waiting begins.

Round 3 will be November 8-10, 2019. So I don’t expect to get any word on my Round 2 submission until a couple days before November 8.

It would be amazing to at least place 15th of 15 this time. I realize I won’t make it to Round 3, but just to place in this Round would be a great ego boost. So here’s seeing if I write romance stories better than thrillers! (At least my group wasn’t assigned horror.)

Fingers crossed!

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