So I Did a Thing…

Categories Life, Self

I did it.

I entered a short story writing competition. Yes. I. Did.

I’m not sure what I was thinking, exactly, other than maybe “why the hell not?” And so I did it. At the last possible second, of course, right up against the deadline. But anyone who knows me at all will not be surprised in the least. I’ve always claimed that I work better under pressure. (Whether that is true or not remains to be seen.)

So what was it like?


Of course I drew the genre that I absolutely did not want – political satire. Yes, I’ve read it. Yes, I know what it is. Heck, I’ve even dragged students through it in my other life as a high school English teacher. No, I do not particularly enjoy reading it and no, I most assuredly did not want that to be my first foray into competition writing. But whatever. I sure as hell wasn’t going to waste the entry fee and submit nothing. Even if I get knocked out of the game right away, at least I did it.

The process of writing was…difficult. Seriously. Trying to fit my story into a neat little package of assigned genre/topic/character in 2500 words or less was no easy task. But I wasn’t completely intimidated – except by the satire genre. That just sucked.

I’ve been writing Six Sentence Stories and other short fiction – mostly to a prompt – for a number of months. I’d like to think the experience of doing that helped me to feel at least somewhat prepared to tackle this contest. I don’t think I really got nervous until I realized I was hyper-tinkering with some edits at 20 minutes out from deadline and started to get worried that I’d miss the deadline. I had to finish title and synopsis 1-2-6 and get that baby uploaded. I made it in with literally less than five minutes to spare. So if it stinks, too bad! It is what it is now…

And now we wait to hear the results of the first round. Until March 20th. (I know – forever.) In the meantime, I plan to do a whole lot more writing and hopefully some of it will actually make it onto the blog here.

What about you – have you ventured into the world of writing competitions? Share your experience with us here? I’d love to know your thoughts. 


Lisa A. Listwa is a self-employed writer with experience in education, publishing, and the martial arts. Believing there was more to life than punching someone else’s time clock and inspired by the words of Henry David Thoreau, she traded her life as a high school educator for a life as a writer and hasn’t looked back. She is mother to one glorious handful of a daughter, wife to the nicest guy on the planet, and reluctant but devoted owner of three Rotten Cats. You can find her adventures and thoughts on living life deliberately here on the blog.

14 thoughts on “So I Did a Thing…

  1. Congratulations Lisa. Crossing my fingers for you.
    I entered the Writer’s Digest’s Short Short Story Competition a few years ago.
    Then, last summer, I entered something, but though I made it to the first round, I didn’t like what the letter said. It’s hard to explain, but I immediately worried I thought too much of myself and that I’d made a huge mistake. It would have been in another anthology, but not like the one I was previously in. It was Canadian and I’d wanted to get involved in the Canadian literary scene for a while. I just felt they were all about selling copies of their books and would accept too many writers, just to get sales. Whether it was a mistake or not, it’s done now.
    I am thinking of submitting to the Alice Munro Short Story Competition though. That would be a better way to spend my time I think, but it certainly is intimidating.
    Hope to see more of your writing here once more, but I understand that other writing often must come first. I am doing a lot of that myself.
    Yes, March feels like a long time from today, but it will be here before we know it, before you know it. Try and be patient…words to live by, for me also.

    1. This was NYC Midnight, Kerry. I actually was planning on trying the WD one, but I didn’t quite read the info correctly and I thought I had until the deadline to register, then write. But it was register and submit the finished product by that date. Lesson learned. So I tabled that one for another time rather than rush to get something in under the gun. I have a list of several that I’m considering and will be reading through info this week. I may be way out of my league, but I figure I’ll never know if I don’t try. Whatever happens, I think the feedback will be a good thing. Just can’t decide if I want to wait for judges feedback only, or take part in the contestants’ forums and get feedback from other participants. Any thoughts?

      1. I’ve heard of people who have done NYC Midnight, but I honestly don’t know a lot about it. I know it’s something about rounds and having a topic set to write about and such. I am sticking to Canadian ones. Alice Munro is pretty beloved here and winning her contest would be a dream. Or there’s the CBC fiction or nonfiction contests, Canadian Broadcasting Company. I am excited to hear how this goes for you. I am intrigued about your story anyway.

        1. Well I don’t know all that much about it yet, either, so this will be a learning experience! There are three rounds and in each writers are assigned a genre, subject, and character to incorporate. Each round is fewer people and each round is shorter turnaround time for the story and fewer words.

  2. I was delighted to get a sneak peak, and I sincerely thought it was very well done. Will be thinking lots of good thoughts until March, and by all means keep writing and entering!

  3. GOOD FOR YOU!!! Had I entered and picked that genre I would have said “ADIOS AMIGO!” I’m so proud of you for going through the hard challenge and accomplishing something out of your comfort zone! YAY YOU! And hey, if it doesn’t make it, you can always publish it HERE. 🙂

    Keep us posted!

    And yes… more more more! Keep these posts COMING!

    1. I almost did, Christine. It took me days to figure out what to do. And I still am not convinced that I managed anything amazing, but I at least gave it my best shot and I get to check something of my “to do in life” list. 😀

    1. Well, that’s what I figured. Can’t hurt. The satire, though? Ugh. First, I’m pretty sure I suck at that. And yes, I’ve been looking over my shoulder ever since I hit submit to see if the thought police are coming after me .

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