Andy and I have a collection of dishes that we almost never use. I bet you have one of those, too. Too precious, right?
Well, this morning, I took my favorite mug off the shelf. Washed it. Filled it with coffee. And drank.
Why? Because last night I followed through on my commitment to enter the NPR Three-Minute Fiction Contest.
My desire wasn’t so much to become a contestant; it was more to prove to myself that I can, indeed, follow through on a writing assignment. Further, I wanted to begin what I’ve been putting off for years — I wanted to begin writing fiction.
So I did it. I wrote a story, sent it off. Mission accomplished.
The truth is, a lot of the hours between “I wanted to . . .” and “So I did it,” were uncomfortable. I almost gave up. I actually had given myself permission to give up.
As if inventing plot weren’t a big enough challenge for me, I found the contest’s premise really annoying: write an original story – 600 words or less – that starts with the line, “She closed the book, placed it on the table, and finally, decided to walk through the door.”
I thought, if she’s in a place where there’s a table, she’s probably inside, rather than outside. Probably. And if she’s in a room with a table, she’s probably in a dining room or a living room. Probably. And if there’s a door in that living room or dining room, it probably leads to the outside of the building. Probably. So she’s essentially leaving a place. It’s a departure. The story begins with a departure? That’s annoying. And who is she? And what is she reading?
These thoughts bothered me for weeks. Fucking NPR. But I sat in the chair anyway. And even though it felt difficult, I typed words anyway. And . . .
Today I got to drink out of my expensive purple mug.
Here’s the best part though, rather than feeling so reverent over completing a task, this morning, while I enjoyed that cup of coffee, I sat and started a new essay. I wrote for hours — had to force myself to stop down for both breakfast and lunch.
This is my work. I love it.