Today, I got up at 3:30 a.m., microwaved a cup of coffee, then went downstairs and wrote three short stories.
I'm not bragging, just stating the facts.
Would it make a difference if I told you those three stories were each 79 words long? And would you believe me if I told you I agonized over those 79 words as much as--maybe even more than--a 7,900-word story?
I wrote the three stories in preparation for entering Esquire magazine's current fiction contest in which all stories are limited to 79 words (in honor of the magazine's 79th anniversary this year). I worked on those three stories for two hours until I felt that the 237 words were the best they could be. Then, since I could only enter once, I selected what I thought was the best of the threesome.
I don't really care if I win, because it was a pleasant exercise in quick, flash-fire creativity. Here's one of the two stories I didn't enter in the contest, in its entirety....
Tim and Tina jolted awake at 3 a.m. Their eyes snapped open like cartoon windowshades as they lay listening to what was in the walls--the claws, the teeth, working through the wood of their house like a ravenous man sawing at a stale, hardened loaf of bread with a serrated knife. It was relentless. Outside, the wind disturbed the branches of the now-vacant Georgia pines. The squirrels no longer needed the trees; they had Tim and Tina’s house.