Writing a short story a week for a year, that was the challenge I set myself in 2016. The stories had to be no more than 1500 words and they could not be connected in any way to other worlds or characters I had created. Once written, I would publish them here for the world to see.
Why did I decide to do this?
It’s not simply that I enjoy torturing myself with arbitrary challenges that inevitably end in tears and disappointment, at one’s basic inability to follow through on anything and the sure knowledge that failure (and ultimately death) awaits us all. That gets me through the night, as I’m sure it does everyone else, but that couldn’t be all this was about.
I wanted to push myself as writer. I felt I had become too complacent in some ways and I wanted to see if I could challenge myself. To force myself to write things that I might not otherwise. Whether this was a genre or a style I didn’t normally write in, or a tense, tone or perspective I didn’t normally adopt, I wanted to see what would happen if I didn’t do what came naturally.
I also wanted to see if I could get myself to write with more brevity, and what better way to do that than to force concision upon myself with a word limit. Practice is not something people often talk about with regards to writing, but that was a fundamental part of this challenge. If I made myself write a short story a week, with a strict (kind of) word limit, by the end of the year, I should have a better idea of how to write with concision and focus. That was the theory anyway.
Along those same lines, I also wanted to get better at writing when I had no inspiration and no ideas of what to write. Muses are fickle, tedious creatures in my experience, not to be relied upon. As a result, the majority of these stories began with a blank page and no sense at all of what I was going to write about that week. I began with a sentence and then another and let my mind take me where it wanted to go.
Finally, and most importantly, I wanted to have fun. Writing, is a pleasurable exercise. At least I think it should be. But, like anything else, it can grow stale if you keep doing the same thing over and over. By starting fresh each week, I ensured that I was always doing going down new and different paths.
As expected, there were a few failures. There were trips to Machu Picchu. Sickness. Health. Miscreant geese. Recalcitrant alpacas. 1500 word stories morphed into a multi-volume book series. The usual run of life, in other words. But I also managed a few weeks where I got more than one story written, with the end result that I ended with more than the 52 stories I had planned.
All the stories that resulted from that challenge I set for myself can be found under the In A Flash category on Circumambient Scenery. They will also be collected and published in a volume. Watch this space for details shortly.
As I write this, having successfully completed 52 plus weeks of writing short stories, I can say that I succeeded in meeting all the goals I had when I set out. The merits of the stories themselves, I will leave to the readers to judge. I know that I enjoyed writing them all, and I hope that you enjoyed reading them.