As part of this first of my two year journey into writing, I had committed myself to entering at least a dozen writing competitions and/or calls for content, pretty much all nonfiction as that’s what I felt I was good at, and knew I enjoyed writing most. I was in no hurry, though, as I could use lots of time to get some skills, find a voice, work on some craftsmanship, among many other writing deficiencies I had. I was planning on doing all twelve in the last third or quarter of the year, not one each month as the pace my twelve total for the year would suggest. Yet, write out of the gates, Fate handed me three competitions with the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia that I had joined on January 3rd as part of my journey. They had an extended deadline of January 15th, which meant soon, and feeling “destined”, as if the deadline had been extended for me. That would be “destined”, as in for me to enter rather than wait as I had been intending, not win or even place.
The three categories of the competition were the generic nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. Of these, I was best at writing nonfiction, and had written poetry most, while writing and liking fiction least. Fiction, to me, was unreal, but meant to be a realistic metaphor for life and/or the human condition, and it was this realistic part that I constant got caught on to keep me from enjoying fiction. To start, I didn’t think fiction held a candle to reality for interest, and weirdness kind of interest, like that expression the truth is stranger than fiction. Then, I often invalidated characters’ actions and thoughts as being unrealistic if I didn’t agree with them, given my unconventional perspectives and ways in life, unlike my automatic acceptance of nonfiction characters and thoughts, wondering why what didn’t make sense happened. To be fair, though, I thought readers would do the same to my fictitious writing. That is, they would dispute what I thought was more realistic as much as I would dispute what they thought. Finally, I thought having no restraints in fiction made choices for my details unappealing given there could be just as many other good options at every turn, so why not pick something else?
Yet, when I started to tackle submissions for these three competitions, I decided to start out with the fiction piece. A good challenge is hard for me to resist. To no surprise, it was a real struggle. To my surprise, though, it was a “flow” sort of struggle. I was “in the zone” night after night despite plodding along, possibly not unlike a 10 minutes per mile jogger. It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t pretty. But it was addictive for some reason to keep me going! Line after line, I wordsmithed lie after lie, coming back again and again to make each a better lie each time. That was the humorous mantra paraphrase I was telling myself, being one who dealt with discomfort through humour to relax and stay in good spirits so I could continue to give my best.
As for all my negative views on fiction? They were still there. I just took a different angle so that I wasn’t really writing fiction. I was writing as if I were recounting one of my many virtual reality dreams, where I behaved as I would in said real life situation, and never questioned anything as being fake, like cartoon G1 Transformers working with Albert Einstein and I. I was also writing as if it were a memoir, mu ultimate writing journey destination, where the audience is one person, who happened to be me. That all set me free to craft up things like this and that, situations like these and those, and characters like they and them, to make the story more enjoyable to me! And true to my mantra, I was loving lie after lie that I wrote and revised to improve time and time again before letting it go… until it needed to be done again by something happening later so as to “make sense”, or yet another lying idea.
Regardless what anyone might think of this, or how well I will or won’t do in the competition, I am delighted to report I have found joy in fiction! This just may be the sanity grace I need in challenging times of writing nonfiction and memoir that expect will be the bulk of my writing in my two year journey… one that may become three or life infinity!*
* rest of my life