2010 passed in a blur. It started with a curiosity in short stories, a few written in the late hours after work, which led to a Canadian author purchasing the rights to publish a story on her site. My initial excitement turned to disappointment after she edited my story by cutting it in half and re-arranging a few sentences and paragraphs. I was at a loss for words after reading her "butchered" version, unable to comprehend how a significant part of my story, which I had spent so much time creating, could vanish just like that. Then I re-read her version many more times and realized it was actually better than the original. I finally understood the effectiveness of brevity.
There is some truth in that you cannot teach good writing. But to progress as a writer, I think everyone needs the basic building blocks of writing technique, and of course, to learn the importance of editing. The Canadian author recommended Gotham as a good place to start, so I registered for two fiction courses online. I was still a bit stubborn with my writing, but with the guidance of two great teachers-Carole Bugge and Meghan Kenny-I immediately saw improvement in my stories. They not only cheered me on with my writing, but also provided me with valuable, critical feedback, and the occasional, much needed, scolding to stay on track, i.e. not to let my stories taper off into complete nonsense.
With the mentoring I received from Carole and Meghan, I am happy to report that I just won the Hometown Tales Writing Contest at ShortbreadStories.com for my story, "That's Minnesota." Without their guidance on how to organize a few thousand words into something special, I wouldn't have won this amazing one week trip to a writer's retreat in southern Spain.
Thank you Carole and Meghan!