The Music of Winning

The Music of Winning

I’d like to say that the musical The Book of Mormon had something to do with the outcome of this year’s Quills Conference writing awards. The problem is, when I Spock out on the probability of that being true, the whole idea reeks of highly illogical. Still, the idea makes me happy.

I belong to a groovy group called the League of Utah writers. It’s a state wide organization that’s been around for over eighty years, and has chapters across the state. I’ve only been a part of it for the past four years, and had been a huge help to me as a writer. Fellow writers helping out each other to be better story tellers.
Every year they have a fall writing conference, Quills, and wrap up the two-day event with a dinner and awards ceremony. Every year I submit a few pieces and waited in anticipation in hopes of hearing my name called out loud in a group of my peers.

The first two years my name remained silent, but last year I got an honorable mention for a short story in the Speculative Fiction category. I handled it like a pro; my face turned bright pink as I shuffle to the front of the room, with my tribe of Monkeys cheering me on with each step I took.

Oh yeah, the chapter I belong to is called the Infinity Monkeys, we’re a speculative fiction chapter who has yet to wrote Hamlet, but damn if we don’t try every chance we get.

So this year, on day two of the conference I’m all poised to attend the awards banquet. I’m full of curious anticipation, not quite shivering, but work my way there. Would my name be called again? It’s a hope I shared with every writer at the conference.

At two hours to award time my pocket began to vibrate. Either there was a Pokémon close by or someone was texting me up. Turned out it was the later. A buddy of mine had a spare ticket to go see The Book of Mormon.

It was a tough call. On one hand, it was the end of the conference. The awards ceremony, a chance for my name to be called out. The chance to become an award winning writer should one of my pieces make it in the top three. On the other hand, it was the musical The Book of Mormon.

I minute later, my friend knew I’d be meeting him at the theater, and was in route to the parking lot.

Worth it. Soooo worth it.

I had no ass left by the end of the show do to my incessant giggling.

What I didn’t expect was the vomit of constant buzzing from phone when we left the theater.

Oh my god, is everyone okay? Who’s in the hospital? Did the house flood? Did someone die?

Turned out: Yes. No. No. And, no.

No messages from my immediate family, but a slew of texts from my Monkey family. Apparently my name had come up a few times that evening. Five times to be precise. I summed up the news in three simple words: “Holy fuck socks!”

Here’s how the evening turned out:
• Second Honorable mention in Fiction
• First Honorable mention in Creative Non-Fiction
• First Honorable mention in Poetry
• Third Place in Media Article
• First place in Poetry

I may have even made a little scratch from some of the awards. Not only had I become an award winning writer in the span of the last two hours, I had also become a paid creative writer. Even as I type that out, two months later, it still feels surreal.

I didn’t want to cliché the whole experience and spend half of my award money on a nice bottle of Scotch, but . . . okay yes, yes I did. I totally spent half my award money on a nice bottle of Scotch. And yes, it was absolutely worth it. The most satisfying campfire I’ve ever licked. Taliskar 10; delightful.

So yeah, logically going to see The Book of Mormon had nothing to do with the outcome of the award banquet. The reviewing, scoring, and award certificate were all done long before I got the call to go see the show. But it just feels more satisfying to believe that just maybe, skipping the awards ceremony to spend the evening in riotous laughter with some fabulous friends, maybe sort of had a little something to do with the outcome of that night. Fiction, yes. But in the end, it’s the story that makes me smile most. And for me, that’s kind of the whole point.



A Year of the Monkeys

During 2017, I took a hiatus from my devotion to getting around to working on the novel, and took up short storyism.

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.

Smirk of the Day, Oct. 10

“Sometimes I wonder who came up with hugs?
If you think about it the very first hug was probably a little creepy.
‘Hey, what are you doing? Why are you holding me?’
‘Shhhh, just trust me.’”

No idea who originally said/wrote this, just wanted to share a laugh or two.