How crazy is that? I never win writing contests (I rarely ever enter them…) but I did this time! Here’s my entry.
Tori McRae’s blog (happy 45th wedding anniversary by the way!) featured a writing contest that called for people to use five words in a story and spend no more than 10 minutes planning, writing, and editing it. I wasn’t sure if I could do it or write anything worthwhile since I’m not much of a fiction writer, but I decided to have a go at it because it was such a short exercise and I knew I could benefit from it. After being reminded that the deadline was fast approaching I finally managed to get my mind around it.
My thoughts about the whole thing? It was very intense. I can often sit down and start writing a story, but getting anything interesting or cohesive has always been an issue. I used to love the writing time we were given in my Grade 12 Writing class, where Mr. Greene would give us a prompt and 20 minutes to write, but I’d always feel finished or empty after about 12 minutes, like my creativity had dried up. Not the case here!
When I set my watch for ten minutes I was surprised how quickly it ticked down. I was rushing by minute three, telling myself to relax at minute five, and frantically wracking my brain for synonyms and a plot at minute five and a half! (Synonyms are dangerous, if you start searching for them you know you have run out of ideas and you know you are just wasting time!) I realized I had no ending at minute nine, and I will admit I took an extra four seconds to finish my last sentence, but I impressed myself with the fact I managed to keep it in 10 minutes, relatively.
I’m very excited to have been chosen, thanks so much to Tori and her writing class for picking me, and I think all writers/non-writers should try short exercises like this one.
Here’s my entry (with the five prompt words highlighted by Tori):
The Little Boy
By Ben Fast
The sun had barely risen over the Arizona desert when a shriek of excitement was heard bouncing off the walls False Creek Canyon. The little boy had found his wish.
The trailer door burst open and a little ball of red-haired fire shot down the aluminum steps, past the plastic picnic table, and down the dusty path towards a tree fort made less from trees than from wooden crates. The transformation was about to begin.
The little boy, aged seven, never remained indoors when there were wishes to be found. Each day, well before his mother’s alarm would buzz on the front bed of the 1962 Sprite trailer (the type with the spare tire under the bed), the little boy would wake up, squeeze his eyes closed again, and think about what he wished for.
Today the little boy wanted to be a pirate. Never had he seen the ocean, or even a lake, other than the neighbourhood pond. The neighbourhood pond which had already been dry for five weeks this summer. And only twice had the little boy been to a swimming pool not made out of plastic – once with his mother when she needed to go shopping in Pheonix and once on a trip with the old lady he called his grandmother.
The fort built in the back corner of the family’s non-descript lot had come from a motorcycle shipped to the man at the end of the row of trailers. He never rode it, just kept it in a hut and took it out on sunny days to wash it and look at it. The little boy guessed he wished to be a bike rider. The little boy had wished that too, last week.
The fort needed to be rearranged from the doctor’s office it had been the day before to the schooner it would serve as today. Moving the sides of the box into a V shape, pushing an old three-legged chair into the newly formed bow, and using three feathers found the summer before as a flag. This would be a good wish, thought the boy.
Music started playing from the trailer where the little boy had come from. Music from Bob Dylan, the little boy’s mother’s favourite. She had just picked up the new record last week. The trailer door remained open. It would be a hot day today – just like all days in the canyon.
A perfect day for wishing, thought the little boy.