The new year’s resolution for 2019 was the same as most new years of the last decade: write more, make a go of it, get published. Hardly new, hardly surprising.
This time, though, I have the added impetus of a looming milestone: the big 4-0. Most writers have been at it for years by this age. I mean, yes, I know, there are plenty of authors who get a start well into their 40s, 50s, even their 60s, but let’s face it: the 30s are generally where the magic starts to happen. Instead, I’ve had my head buried in the sand for the last 10 years pretending it’s not really happening. I won’t get into all the reasons why this has been a write-off decade; maybe that’s for another post at another time.
Long story short, I decided to kickstart the creative buzz by returning to an old friend, one I’d vowed never to go back to – you guessed it, good ol’ NYC Midnight. I got put off their challenges as they grew in popularity. Not to sound like a snob or go all “I like the old stuff better than the new stuff”, but as that competition grew in numbers, it took the organisers longer to get through submissions, and the quality of feedback began to suffer. I also found that, as someone writing who is not in North America, any non-American references or language was often called out as suspect by the judges. (Case in point: I was asked why a working class Australian household wouldn’t just check its front door camera to see who was posting nasty messages. The answer, for reference, is because that’s not a thing in Australian working class households. That wasn’t as bad as the other half’s story about a court case, where the judge asked who “Regina” was – that answer lies in the fact “The Crown” is known as “Regina”, and that’s who brings cases in courts.)
Anyways, back to that short story, I was all excited and ready to dive straight back into fiction. This was early January and I was ready to start the year right.
Until I got my assignment.
Action/adventure, a secret mission, and a bank manager.
First of all: ugh, action/adventure. But also: ugh, secret missions with bank managers. All I could think of was Bond-style spy thrillers, but that’s a whole separate genre according to NYC Midnight. I spent all week working on some Dan Brown-style Vatican adventure only to decide with 12 hours until submission that I hated it, it wasn’t going to happen, and I should just dump it all and give up.
But that nagging voice kept saying: this is your new year’s resolution and it’s only January. Just bloody well do it.
In the end, I went back to a different idea, the first one I came up with but that I dismissed as not being relevant. The story came out in a few hours. I gave it a quick tidy-up edit and submitted it. Out of sight, out of mind.
The result was a World War 2 romp titled This One’s for the Village, Lads! Who knows if it meets criteria, but at least it got the juices flowing.