A Year of the Monkeys
The writing group I belong to, the Infinite Monkeys chapter of The League of Utah Writers, had a brilliant idea to write short stories for a year focusing on a different zodiac sign themes and by the end of a year maybe, just maybe, there would be enough stories to toss into an anthology. And if all went well with submissions, edits, and rewrites, we’d have book shaped stocking suffers with our name in it to give out to our family by next winter.
I wrote a lot of short stories that year. I also received a lot of feedback in the critique groups I attended. Kind, helpful feedback, like:
“You’re main character’s an asshole. If he was a real person I’d throat punch that bitch. Serious, give up on this story and try something else.”
“How come your characters swear so much. Profanity is for lazy writers. With all the words that a writer has at their disposal, why would you ever need to include swear words in your story?”
“Well, if you take into account that the goal of writing is to evoke a reaction from the reader, it definitely got a reaction out of me. So, there you go.”
There was more plenty more, and all in all, most of it was helpful. Apart from the anti-profanity chap . . . fuck that guy.
What the year of short stories gave me a year of starting and finishing stories. The on going exercise of edits and critiques and the realization that as much of a pain is the ass short stories were to write (I get long winded and trying to keep my stories to under 5000 words became the bane of every story I wrote that year), I became a better writer.
I did the work and it paid off. I ended up submitting the strongest of my stories, Tilting Scales, which was accepted with a couple of “Hell yeahs,” and one “That’s a solid story.” I also ended up with a few more stories that I love and am going to be submitting to other places to see what happens.
I’ve also taken up the novel again, which is good, but after a year of practicing and improving my writing chops, fuck me that thing needs a lot of work. Good thing I’m a better writer now and up to the task.
As for the anthology, it’s under the Books link at the top of the page, but you can also click here to go to a groovy little page that will let you select where you’d like to order it from . . . you know, if you’re of the disposition.