One of the activities that was taking up the majority of my ‘free’ time lately was the Blizzard Short Story contest. The basic idea was to write a short story set in either the Starcraft, Diablo, or Warcraft universe. You send the story into Blizzard and the winners get some pretty cool swag. Here’s the webpage to the contest if you want to see the details for yourself.
For the past 6 weeks or so, I’ve been feverishly working on a story to enter. On August 22, 2010, a day before the actual due date, I entered my short story.
Short is a relative word in this case. The rules stated that the story could be between 2,500 and 7,500 words. My story came in at 7,496. The biggest worry I have is that their version of Word will have a slightly different word count engine than mine, and I’ll come in over. But I can’t really do anything about that, so there is little point in worrying about it.
I need to give a big shout out to Rhoelyn of Beneath Two Skies, and Steve Hall of Kestrel’s Aerie. Rhoelyn took what was a very rough first draft and suggested some refinements that really helped me create a better story. Steve and Rhoelyn both helped with grammar and punctuation issues. I know that my entry was improved by orders of magnitude by their input.
I don’t have any delusions that I’ll win anything from the contest, but I already feel like it was a success.
I entered which was an achievement in and of itself. Think about it this way. Some number of people saw the announcement. Some percentage of those people decided they wanted to enter. Some percentage of the people who decided they wanted to enter actually sat down and started writing a story. Some percentage of people who started writing a story, finished it before the deadline. Some percentage of those who finished before the deadline actually entered. At each stage of the process people dropped out. I was tempted at points to drop out, but I didn’t, and that to me was the first accomplishment.
I’m a fantastic starter, but a lousy finisher. I can’t tell you how many projects I have begun with great enthusiasm, but I can tell you that I can count the ones I have finished on one hand. So finishing, and entering a copy edited, polished story was a big deal to me.
I also know, beyond a shadow of doubt, that I entered the best story I am capable of writing. I didn’t leave anything on the field, to borrow a football expression. I know there are people who write much better than I do. I can’t compare myself to them. It would be like comparing myself to Adrian Peterson and feeling like I could never go out with the guys to play Flag Football. But I wrote the story to the best of my ability. I took the criticism I received, and worked on the areas of the story that needed work. At the end, I had a story I was proud to call my own. I could have kept editing it for weeks, but in the end, I had to let it go. I have no regrets knowing it honestly was the best story I was capable of entering.
Finally, I made a very important discovery in the process. The nights I was working on my story evaporated. The hours passed with hardly my notice, a sure sign I was truly enjoying what I was doing. I know this is a hobby and a passion I want to continue to pursue. I’m going to continue to work on my skill as a writer, and continue to learn all that I can about being a better writer.
With something as subjective as fiction writing, the judging is out of my control. I may not win, but I have already succeeded.
The story is technically the property of Blizzard Entertainment now, but I have a private copy that I can share with you, if you would like to read it. Please send me an email or a Direct Message to my twitter @TedtheThird.