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There is this competition, you see – short stories, historical setting… I really, really want to submit. I’ve known about it for quite some time – and, in fact, for some reason, at first I thought the deadline was in late April. So I began brainstorming ideas back in March, and went through old notebooks, mining for those little Could This Be A Story notes, or hastily sketched half-page notions, and wrote down lists of promising ideas… and then hit on something I liked. Something that was tied to my work in progress. Something promising. 

So, more brainstorming, and themed free-writing, and a few experiments… and then I found out that the looming deadline wasn’t looming, after all. When it occurred to me to check the competition rules, I found that while I read April, the closing date for submission was, in fact, late July.

Yes, well. So I told myself I had all the time in the world, and put the short story aside, and worked instead on adapting and translating something for my own Lunedì next November, and then there was another short story for another competition – which ended up being two short stories, for various reasons, none of them terribly sensible – and then… and then I had all the time, hadn’t I?

And all the while, as I minded other things, I kept going back by fits and starts to the Thing for July, and trying it on for size, and toying with it… until I began to like it a little less. The idea in itself was decent – but I was less and less sure I could turn it into a tightly built short story.

Ah well, I told myself, surely I could think of something else? There was time, after all. I even enrolled in Holly Lisle’s new course on short stories… Usually Holly’s courses do the trick for me, and I come away with something done – so I started the course, did the exercises, flirted with a few ideas… and stopped dead in the water when it came to actually writing – because I didn’t know what to write, really.

And now I’m quite worried. Well, I’ve been worried for some time, now, because this is not, but not normal. This must be the first time in ten or twelve years that I can’t write something at need… In fact, it used to be a struggle to keep up with all the things that wanted to be written, so that, when need arose for a story or a play, it was just a matter of picking the best fit, and go with it. So… what’s wrong with me? We’re in July already, and I can’t seem to do anything about it, except stare at my pages and pages of notes, and mope, and whine to the occasional sympathetic soul: why, why, o why can’t I put together even a little scrap of a short story?

Is it because I’m too taken with the novel’s revision and a play in workshop? Is it because the delayed deadline wrecked my writing process? Is it because I’m (gasp!) blocked?

I don’t know, and the deadline is looming now, and I’m going nowhere, and I’m developing all sorts of mooligrubs about it. Words of wisdom, anyone?

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