In April 2012, I was looking at a few months of very little writing and feeling guilty as all hell. The Maine Arts Commission had given me their Literary Arts Fellowship that year, a confidence boost that should have carried me through a novel or screenplay or memoir-in-recipes or picture-book-manifesto… some epic collection of words. But no. Nothing.
During one of my self-harangues, I remembered reading somewhere that May had been designated Short Story Month. Why not launch a short story project? I’d long admired writers of very short fiction but didn’t have the knack myself, so I decided to write a complete story every day in May to teach myself how to write publishable micros and flashes.
Never have I felt more full of good writing energy and purpose. That month turned into another month turned into a year. I blogged about every day’s effort at Daily Shorty, where in subsequent years I posted various thoughts on writing very short fiction, and where still lives a collection of resources for anyone writing micros and flashes, including suggestions for submissions, contests for individual pieces, and contests for chapbooks. I still go there to remind myself of the revelations of that year.
Whenever I feel stuck in a writing project, I go through that 12 months of work and select a few rough drafts to refine into something publishable. I’ve published twenty of the stories I drafted in that magical year, I included another in the linked collection I’m revising now, and I used the material from five others in another story in the collection. I have a few others out on submission, and another handful waiting for upgrades. I’m making this note almost 7 years after I drafted the final story, and I’m betting I’ll be dining on this trove of work for a few more years.
We need our writing gods.
There is no doubt in my mind that I never would have been inspired to write a story every day for a year if not for the gift of that fellowship from the Maine Arts Commission. If you’re a Maine writer, please visit their site and check out the opportunities and resources collected there. If you’re not in Maine, find the arts organizations in your state that are eager to push you toward your goals.
Many forever-thanks to the Maine Arts Commission.
From Joan Cyr, who took the photo “Sunday River Bridge” above: Built in 1872 and located in Newry, this bridge is one of several of Maine’s beautiful covered bridges. Owing to its popularity with painters and photographers, locals call it the “Artist’s Bridge.” See more of Cyr’s work here.