Some people in my circle of influence think I’m a prolific writer. If 2000 words a day is the mark, I reach it most days. But, that wasn’t always the case. I’ve written for years, with no consistency. I wanted to be more disciplined. That required setting measurable goals. When I set up my first blog eight years ago, I forgot about it for nearly a year. What would I talk about? Who would read it What was my platform?
Eventually, I set a goal of writing 300 words a day which is approximately half a page. When that became consistently attainable, I stretched it to 500. At the end of six months, I had a pile of writings. Now what?
Some of it turned out to be good writing. With a little attention, some tweaking and polish, it became a decent essay. At the end of that year, I had a stack of essays. What could I do with them?
I set a new goal. I wanted to send my pieces out to various literary magazines, contests and anthologies. I researched and studied, (Long Ridge Writers Group article writing class proved invaluable!) learned how to format work so that it would be acceptable and my new goal was sending out 5 pieces a week. I didn’t achieve that goal, but at least two went out per week with some regular consistency. My secondary goal was to get 100 rejection slips.
Now, you’re probably wondering why I wanted 100 rejections? Getting any kind of feedback reminded me that I was working toward my goal. Every writer who became noteworthy said they had enough rejection slips to paper their walls. It goes with the territory. I expected to get 100 before I finally got published. After my fourth submission, an anthology accepted my writing. I was published! I kept sending out work and fun things happened. More people accepted my work.
This is where I am right now. Remember those photos from last week? I wrote a story (6300 words!!) and found a place to send it to. You can do it too! Just begin with a few goals and never give up until you reach them. Did you write anything this week? I’d love to hear from you.
If you’ve stuck with me this far, below you will find an excerpt from the story I sent out:
Then, something tapped my bare foot. In the sand by my toes lay a shell. Wait, a shiny, pink and white Queen Conch shell washed up on the shore of Lake Michigan? It seemed highly unlikely. Had the dolphins somehow delivered it? I bent to my haunches and picked it up. The shell over filled my two hands and felt heavy as a brick. It looked like something from the tropics, sold from souvenir shops.
As I held it, I noticed something protruding from the opening and I quickly set it down. It looked almost like a snail head. It touched the sand, slowly lengthening, as if pulling itself from its shell. Then there were two. As I watched, mystified, then saw that it was really two fingers. I pulled out my cell phone. In my rush to leave, I’d forgotten to charge the battery. The icon on the screen was blinking, as if it was gasping for breath. I snapped two pictures before the phone’s battery officially died. The being continued to emerge until a whole hand had formed, then an arm. I backed away.
This was the strangest occurrence I had ever witnessed on the Chicago shore. I stood up and turned away to see if there were other onlookers, to call attention to this weird event unfolding, right here, just off 78th on Rainbow Beach. A mother and her child were a ways up, and I waved frantically, shouting to get their attention. The child saw me and pointed. The mother looked in my direction, clutched her kid tighter and hurried back to her car, looking over her shoulder to make sure I wasn’t following them. I felt like a nut.
There was no one left. Not even a dog. When I returned my gaze to the shell, I noticed the decidedly female form had become a head, two arms and a torso. Her head faced the water, with me behind, and I backed farther away.
I gazed in complete wonder at the woman lying on her back, wriggling herself free of that shell…