After finishing a novel, which took up the bulk of two years, I found it difficult to simply stop. Just like a marathon runner continues trotting past the finish line, momentum prevented me from dropping the pen and backing away from the keyboard.
So, what to do with the residual creativity? The answer came when the lady on the car radio told me each day that RTÉ’s Francis MacManus Short Story competition was accepting entries.
That was last spring. Seems like aeons ago. Once I decided to enter a story my mind began to turn over ideas. One day it conjured up the image of a grumpy elderly man sitting in front of his TV and ignoring his doorbell.
I returned to the well-worn keyboard and tapped out my little story. It featured lots of this…
… and some of this…
Word count: 3,870 words. I checked out the criteria for the competition. Maximum word count: 2,000 words. Dagnabit!
Cutting every other word was not an option. It was going to take some work. Descriptive phrases were cut. Dialogue was trimmed. I had a scissors in one hand and a machete in the other. It was brutal. By the end I was as cranky as my main character. What I had though was a story that was as lean as a whippet.
Story was duly dispatched and forgotten about.
Cut to: six months later. Another lady was on the phone, telling me that they had received more than 800 entries for the competition. Out of those, my little story had made it onto the shortlist of 24. I was stunned.
Cut to: one week later. My good news lady was back on the phone. Out of the 24 shortlisted tales mine had finished THIRD! That’s bronze medal, mate!
Well, after all those words and months and phone calls, my story ‘Chalk and Cheese’ was finally broadcast on da wireless. I was delighted to hear Patrick Dawson’s distinctive voice bring my character to life. Clickety-click on this link to listen to the story.
Oh, and don’t forget to let me know what you think!