The Story Behind the Story: The Wheels on the Bus

Two months ago, I competed in the first round of NYC Midnight's 2017 Short Story Challenge. Today, I found out that my entry placed second in my heat--advancing me to this weekend's Round 2. I was floored.

 I had to check the results half a dozen times just to make sure my name was really there.

I had to check the results half a dozen times just to make sure my name was really there.

See, I thought for sure my Short Story Challenge journey began and ended with that story.

For starters, I was assigned Romance as a genre. I do not read Romance. I do not write Romance. I am only vaguely familiar with Romance as a concept. On top of that, I had to write this Romance during the week He Who Must Not Be Named was inaugurated as president. I was not a happy camper. I did not want to write a happy, lovey story. I wanted to write something mad, something sad, something scary--not a story with a happy ever after.

Every word was a struggle. For Round 1 of the challenge, we have eight days to write a 2,500 word story. Usually, my eight days look like this:

Days 1-2 brainstorm and outline

Days 2-6 draft, draft, draft

Days 6-8 revise, revise, revise

This time it was more

Days 1-6 brainstorm   brainstorm   brainstorm

Days 6-8 draft     draft    draft    draft

No time to revise.

My finished story, late on Day 8, was 900 words too short. It was a romance without romance. There's not even any hand-holding. It's basically one long meet-cute.

I posted it thinking, "Oh, well. It's not a Romance, but it's done." I filed away the story, assuming it would never see the light of day.

It seems I was wrong. It IS a Romance, and one the judges liked. Go figure.

Click here to read "The Wheels on the Bus."