Thursday, October 3, 2013

Competitive Nature

                 “Hit me!”


                 “C’mon, hit me!”


                 “You call that hitting? You are wimpy. Hit me like you mean it.”

                 My brother’s words made me so mad back then. I remember feeling the energy run through my body until my little fist surged forward with such force that I was sure that that time when I connected it would hurt the jerk. If it ever did he never let on.

                 To say we were competitive was an understatement. I can’t tell you how many races we would run, how many coloring competitions we would have, or how many games of Yahtzee we played. I loved the highs of winning, and dreaded the sting of losing. But that is so much a part of life, isn’t it? Highs and lows. Wins and losses.

             A couple weeks ago I participated in a 24 hour writing competition. I love that competition. They run four competitions a year, and I always look forward to the challenge. The competition people email you the subject matter at a selected time. They stress they like surprise, or happy endings. You are given a word count, and off you go. Every time I’ve entered this competition I've enjoyed the subject matter. This last time? Not so much. It was the hardest I’ve had to deal with yet. Here it is…

            She wiped her hands on her apron, peering out the window.
Red and orange leaves hurried by as the cold autumn wind
battered the small cabin. The girl should have been back
from the errand by now. At that moment, she saw the flying,
fiery red braids. The devil's mark on her right cheek, a
constant reminder, was clearly visible, even at dusk. The
girl, breathless, burst through the wooden door.

"Ma! Come quickly!!"

            The rules state that you don’t have to use all of the subject matter. I dreaded this subject, and let my mind roll over different options. I finally settled in and started writing, putting my own twist on the ‘devil’s mark.’ When I sent the final copy to the people putting on the competition I was pleased. I actually used almost all of the above material. Of course, I did twist it from a dark, almost lonesome tale, into one of love and happiness. Because I need Happy!

            But that was just the beginning of the competitions. I’m writing for another one as we speak. This one is a huge competition. The story has to be 4,000 words, and I’m in the genre I love, Romance. This story was not planned. At all. While in Savannah last weekend I just sat down and started typing. And I’m into it. I usually don’t like writing by the seat of my pants so much, but I am inspired. Let’s hope the words keep flowing.

            So many times I read that the first sentence of a book should be powerful enough to suck a reader in. I, as a reader, give the book I’m reading more than one sentence before I decide if I like it or not. But that’s just me. Here’s the first sentence of my work in progress.

            “I cannot believe you broke up with me via voice mail when you knew I was flying to Savannah for a business meeting.”

            Would that be enough to pull you in? Who knows, maybe it’ll change about fifty more times before I turn it in. That’s usually the way it goes for me.

            So my early years in competition with my brother have prepared me, in a way, for life’s later competitions. I love these. And yes, I still feel the sting with loss. I’ll let you know what the feeling of winning is like when it happens. Because it will. Sooner or later!

Did you have sibling competitions? What were some things you and your brother/sister competed in? Do you decide if you like a book within the first sentence? Did the first sentence pull you into this rant?

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