I have a handful of writer friends I’ve been lucky enough to find through the wonders of blogging. One of them is writer/editor Kate Johnston, whom you may also know as 4amwriter on Twitter. Kate recently sent out a challenge: dare to write something new this summer. On her own blog – https://4amwriter.com/ – she offers eager participants looking for summertime motivation to send her a poem, short story, or even part of your novel-in-progress, for reading and general feedback! You also have a chance to win one of these fabulous prizes: a free copy of her e-book (Amazon.com buy link here, if you can’t wait), or an in-depth critique of your work!
Personal plug-time: Kate has given me critique on my own work, and I can attest that the insight and compassion in her feedback helped draw out a better writer in me – and it can do the same for you! So, if you need motivation to get that chapter or story down on paper this summer, this is it. Head over to Kate’s blog for more info! While you’re there, don’t forget to check out her e-books, with strategies and stories for writers of all permutations.
Kate’s “Dare to Write” challenge was just what I needed. I’d been struggling through slow rewrites of my science fiction team adventure story, and my writer’s heart was failing for the lack of progress. When the “Dare to Write” post notification popped up in my inbox, I headed over there right away. Partly because I have always enjoyed writing challenges, especially when I’m in a rut, but also because when a writer and coach like Kate says we should dare to do something, it is always worth the risk. This effort proved to be no different.
It took a few weeks to get down on paper all of the pieces and scenes for this latest “Finding Mister Wright” pre-fic, but I finally put together the short story of how being a parent can throw a romantic evening off-course…but also how that new course can lead to a far better destination. It’s a story I’ve had in my head for many moons, now, and it brought me a lot of joy to get it out of my head and into a form more tangible.
This particular story clocks in at just over 6000 words, so I will give folks here the same warning I gave Kate when I sent it in for the “Dare to Write” challenge: the story is not short, so I understand if length is a deterrent. It also features a minor sex scene between two consenting adults of the same gender, so if that makes you uncomfortable, no hard feelings if you don’t click on the link. I will say that the sex is not so important as what’s happening around it. It may sound strange, but these are as close to real people as I can make them, with personal concerns and hangups as well as desires. I’ve also been trying to temper my sex scenes – especially between these two characters – to lean more toward the PG/PG-13 side than some of the explicitly graphic stuff I’ve written in the past. Being my own judge, I can’t say whether the effort is successful or not, but it certainly has been interesting to swing the pendulum the other way. If you’re interested in checking out this story, you can click the link below: “Sleepover, or, A Taste of Happiness” [PDF will open in a new tab]
~6000 words / 19 pages DS
Summer is a busy time for many of us, but I hope that you are trying new things and exploring new worlds in your imagination. I also hope that you’ll make time to hop on over to 4amwriter.com to join in on the “Dare to Write” summer writing challenge!
What are your writing goals for this summer? Have you dared to write something new? Or, work more on something older? Let me know in the comments – it all counts!
Image attribution: Thomas Julin [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Thank you for posting, Mayumi. I know I struggled with what Kate was talking about: keeping my stories. I commented on her blog about how I regretted throwing away my notebooks and stories. I’m a person who doesn’t like clutter. And I have stories in a draft book that need completing. I thought about throwing it away, but Kate’s encouraging words inspired me to keep it.
I think I will take on Kate’s writing challenge. I actually have an idea for a story. It’s a revamping of a story I had published in my early college years. It’s been boiling around in my head, and I wavered between writing it or not. Something inside me is telling me I should write it. And who am I to ignore it?
Thanks for the share and the wonderful plug, Mayumi! I can’t wait to read your story. Part of the reason I love coaching writers is that I get true enjoyment out of jib-jabbing about all things writing. I also find that I move forward in my own journey when I work with writers because I believe we should always be open to learning–even when we’re in a position of teaching or coaching others.
There is something about a good challenge that really hits the ego, isn’t there? It teases you with what you can do, while everything else is trying tell you that you can’t or won’t for one reason or another. Sometimes its the challenge itself, not being able to find that right fit to the mood of the challenge, or just the hustle and bustle of life in general. But that feeling when you conquer it, or put your stone in the framework like this, is a real wonder. And I’m happy to hear this challenge brought you that joy and pulled you into a writing groove 🙂
As for your story, I thought it was wonderful. It captures the awkwardness of not only those new levels in a relationship, but what I imagine are those barriers in sexuality, beautifully. Plus Paige is just adorable, of course I could totally biased towards a daughter’s affections 😀
Awesome story, Mayumi!
I heard you were planning on sending Kate a story, too! That’s great, George. And, I’m glad to hear you’ve decided to keep your latest stories. They can take up space after a while, but it’s always nice to look back and see where we’ve come.
If you lack physical space for storage, one thing I’ve learned I can do over the years is take a picture of a page and upload that to whatever cloud storage I use. That’s especially helpful in situations where some writing we want to keep isn’t very long, and we may not continue it in that particular form, but it’s worth keeping for use later.
Good luck with your story submission!
My pleasure to spread the word, Kate. 🙂 Any challenge to write is a great challenge, especially if it prompts us to actually sit down and write. Not everyone has the luxury of a set time of day every day to do that. And, not everyone is comfortable sharing to a wide audience. But you are a gifted and trustworthy reader, and I wanted to share your opportunity with my writer friends. I figured my sharing your challenge would be safe, too, since only a handful of people regularly read my blog, and many of them already read yours. 🙂
I hope you enjoy the story! Or, at least the excerpt. 🙂
Happy reading – and writing!
Thanks, shade! Paige is modeled after an amalgam of kids, but I have to admit a lot of her at this age has my own little Miss P in her. 🙂
Sometimes, challenging ourselves isn’t quite enough to make us sit down and write, draw, read, or whatever. We need that challenge from outside. I’m hoping some new folks get introduced to Kate’s skills this way, because she’s very good at what she does. I’m also hopeful that her challenge will help other writers realize that they CAN create even when there is pressure. A few sentences a day or a week can make a difference in progress, and that can help us see our art through further.
Thanks again for reading the story! I know that you are very busy, so that you would take the time out of your schedule to look through 20 pages of my indulgent fiction means a lot. <3
So nice to meet you here, Mayumi-H. I hopped over from Kate’s blog. You are wonderful to relay to your followers Kate’s offer to read one of our short stories or part of a novel. I think you’ve inspired me to send something to her. Your writing is fresh and accessible and delightful. Thanks for sharing!
Nice to meet you, too, Pam! Thank you so much for the kind words. 🙂
Kate is a great coach and writer in her own right. I owe a lot of my progress to her insight, comments, and critique. Anyone who takes a chance on their writing with her will come out better for it, so I had to offer that push.
Thanks for sharing will check her post out and maybe join in 😛 will also take a look at your story! Well done for writing xx
Thank you, Jenny. 🙂 I think this particular offer from Kate is up, now, but she is a great resource in general. She used to do 1000-word spec reviews; you might want to look on her blog for that opportunity.