Slice of Life: Short Story Finalist

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write on Tuesdays about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

The other day, I found out a short story I wrote for contest hosted by the local newspaper and radio station is a finalist, with the winners to be announced in the coming days. This Short Fiction Contest used to be a HUGE deal around here where I live during its heyday, as writing groups and others put its annual submission date on the calendar as a must-watch time of year.

Like many others in this area full of writers and artists, I have submitted stories over the years, and I was even a finalist one other time (in a strange piece that used the format of a end-of-book contributors biography list to weave in hints of stories that connected all of the people together).

The contest went dormant for a few years as the local newspaper struggled to cut costs and ended its weekly magazine (where the story was hosted). But then this year, before the Pandemic, the newspaper revived the contest with a call for submissions. I had an idea for a story, sparked by something I had read about an unclaimed piece of land, and then wrote it in a blur over a day or two, then workshopped it with some friends at an online community I was part of (Yap.Net) where the advice of my reader friends was so incredibly helpful to fine-tuning the narrative and voice.

Then I submitted the story.

But, of course, the Pandemic hit us not long afterwards. The newspaper struggled to stay afloat with reduced advertising, and I didn’t even think about the contest at all, or my story, for a long time. I just figured it was another casualty of the times.

A few weeks ago, I saw a notice in the newspaper that the whole thing was back on again, with help 0f the local radio station, and then two weeks ago, I got an email saying I was a finalist and would I come on the local radio to read my story and be interviewed (of course, I did – it will be here as a podcast after it runs on the air this week sometime)?

So now I am waiting to see what happens.

My students are excited (Our writing teacher is a finalist! The story will be in the newspaper! He spoke on the radio and mentioned us!) and I’ve been using the moment to play up the fun of being a writer telling stories and getting some recognition now and then, and explaining where my idea for the story came from and how I wrote the story, and the moments of struggle in the writing, and all that.

So, I wait … but not much longer.

Peace (writing it down),

  1. So exciting – especially love how you’re sharing the process (including feedback, vital) and the struggle while “playing up the fun” of being a writer. I can imagine how this is kindling a deeper appreciation for the craft in students. Congratulations and here’s to your story taking top prize…

  2. Wahoo! I always love your reflection and this piece captures so much! It was fun to track your inner thinking, details of the process, and end with a hopeful wait. You must be such an inspiration to your students. (You inspire me regularly).

  3. Kevin, this is great news. I am thrilled for you as your students must be, too. You will receive celebrity status in their eyes as soon as the podcast interview comes out. Please share that when it does appear.

  4. This is exciting! Congratulations! Perhaps it is even more exciting now that you had forgotten about the contest and the nomination came as a surprise.

  5. Many congratulations! I know the feeling especially when it is not expected. I liked the honest way in which you mentioned the process. And yes, students are the biggest fans and very vocal in their appreciation. Lucky you! Wish you many more.

  6. It’s great when things like that hit out of the blue. You put in the work, but time passes…and you forget. Congratulations, and good luck!

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