Boy do I have news for you, my inklings.
All I can say is wow. I just got home last night from an impromptu trip to Lincoln, NE to the fabulous Constellation VI sci-fi convention. Hosted by the charming and hilarious toastmistress Sabrina Sumsion. If you are in the area come check it out, the people are fantastic and there’s a wonderful atmosphere of fun and community permeating the event. “But why,” you might ask, “was the octopus at a sci-fi convention?”
Thanks to a tip-off from the aforementioned mistress of toast, I was made aware of the convention as well as its short story writing contest. I was entered in the Adult Novice Division and didn’t really know what to expect.
I hammered out my concept, including the roughest outlines you’ve ever seen for a three book series based around the idea before I said, “Okay, now how much of this can I fit in a 3k word limit?” After sighting up just where to cut into this beast and with most of the plot left standing I had isolated a single event in the over all story to focus on.
Inspiration came in huge drifts and I could barely keep up with the notes until I started getting twitchy (I have Tourette’s Syndrome, so I mean actual twitching). Fighting through my symptoms as best as I could things just clicked and I somehow managed to work out the rest of the first draft. I would write until I collapsed onto a set of couch cushions on the floor next to my computer and my wife, Andrea, would take over and start editing. She read the manuscript in its entirety many more times than I did while she helped me work out problems with clarity, characterization, and other rough spots.
She’s painfully honest, but she’s kind so it’s never mean spirited and it’s always what I need to hear. If you want to be a writer you need someone with good taste, technical skill and this attitude to be honest with you about your work. My wife helped me edit and polish until we were half crazy and in the early morning hours of the deadline day we said a prayer and sent it in.
That’s where the story would end, if I didn’t win.
As it turns out your good buddy the octopus happened to write something the judges enjoyed and I was honored with having my short story, “Verser”, included in the Constellation VI program. It’s currently the only place you can read it so I suggest you get yourself over to the downtown Holiday Inn on N.9th and P street in Lincoln, NE if you’re in the neighborhood and get down with some great people.
If you’re not in the area you can wait, I did give them permission to put the story on their website and I retained my rights so one way or another you’ll eventually get to read my first ever contest winner.
Robert JV Christensen
EDIT: You can read the full short story here: Verser