When I told members of my writing groups that a story of mine placed second in this year’s “Ten Stories High” contest, they wanted to know which one. I told them: “Restraint”. They looked at me blankly. “You know,” I said. “The one that starts with Larry stabbing the pumpkin.” Immediate recognition. Amazing how a concrete image has staying power, isn’t it?
Here’s the first paragraph, the first time Larry stabs that pumpkin:
Larry has the radio on all the time now. The house is so lonely with just him and Granddad in it. Since Loretta left back in the spring, all he’s wanted is to have his boy back on the farm for just a weekend. A day. An afternoon even. He jabs his knife between the eyes of the jack-o-lantern he carved for Hallowe’en when there was still a chance Loretta might let him have Nick for just that one night.
As I’ve worked away over the past several years on short stories, like “Restraint” that I envision one day forming a collection — no, it won’t be for kids — I’ve entered some of the finished stories in contests. “Restraint” is the fourth to do well, the third to be published. I like to think this means I’m on the right track!
Shall I admit now that the entire collection is now finished and I’ve begun the search for a publisher? As anyone in the biz knows, that means lots of waiting. So, of course I’ve moved on to other projects while I wait.
More on that later, but do wish me luck with this collection, okay? And if you have a favourite publisher of short stories (some publishers won’t touch them), please let me know.