“Morning, Casanova. Well, it looks like Mommy is now going into Day Three of this rather stubborn migraine, because I just stepped out of bed and can already feel the signs on the right lobe of my head. My stomach isn’t going to be able to handle more than some feverfew and ginger tea this morning while I wait for the Imitrex to set in, and technically that pill puts me ‘over’ on my Medication Overuse allocation this month. And I’ve been trying so hard, too. *sigh* So… that means you get to watch the house again today while Mommy is in bed. Oh, and Casanova, when I say ‘watch the house,’ I’d prefer if you could do so this time without making a mess of the toilet paper in Mommy’s bathroom, okay?
“*sips* Aaah, that’s the good stuff. You know, ‘Nova, it had occured to me the other day that it was this month, October, of last year that I started participating in the Short Story Challenges thread at the Sims forums… and I haven’t missed a single month since then! Somehow, I feel pretty proud of that. I mean, I’ve come dangerously close to the deadline a few months, but with my migraines constantly getting in the way, I was sure I wouldn’t manage at some point. But here it is, October of 2016, and I have thirteen different short stories to show for it. It was almost like, they gave me something to aim for. This personal goal, to just get that one piece of writing done, if nothing else, despite the pain. And it’s been really hard the last few months, since I’ve been dealing with the plantar fasciitis and physical therapy has been eating up my time… but the Short Story Challenge somehow just made me want to find just enough time for that one piece of writing a month. Is that silly?
“And then, I started thinking back on that first short story I wrote, The Stray. I used my existing story, The Cat Chronicles, as my framing piece, and the next month, with Lost in Space, I did the same thing using my other existing story The Yandere Diaries. Probably not the most creativily sound choices, but it got my feet wet with the process, and since then, I really found myself branching out.
“Actually, I think my writing in general really improved over that year, and I think my practice from the Short Story Challenge has a lot to do with that. My favorite part was seeing all the different themes, and trying to think, ‘How can I take this theme, and use it to write something meaningful to me?’ I was able to write about a lot of really deep and important issues to me, sometimes shoehorned into months when even I’d least expect it, like the importance of body-positivity and my stance against passive-aggressive body-shaming in Resolutions Resolved, which was the holiday-themed story! That short story is really special now, because it was inspired on my real-life experiences on getting over my body-image by Drag Queen Latrice Royale, and last summer I actually got to meet her! I never thought in a million years that would happen! I wrote her a letter about what a positive inspiration she’d been on my life and gave it to her during her show! Somehow, I feel like writing that story first gave me that courage to do so. I also got to explore LGBTQ+ issues that are important to me, like Growing Pains for the theme ‘Growth,’ and I was scared that the readers would find my story too ‘controversial’ since it was about a transgender child… so imagine my shock when it placed first! I think seeing how ‘okay’ the community was with this story gave me the courage I needed to host Sims Pride the next month, and I’m so glad that I did! And this month, I wrote Play Your Ace, somehow managing to combine the ‘So Spooky’ theme with Asexuality Awareness Week, a very important topic to me as an aromantic asexual.
“Speaking of being an aromantic asexual… I remember the month where the theme gave me the most trouble! It was August, with ‘Summer Love.’ I groaned and told myself, ‘I’m Ace, I can’t write a love story!’ I guess every author has those moments of self-defeat, but I was just being too short-sighted. I knew that what I needed to do was somehow interpret the theme into a way that I could really make it shine, could really show love in a way that would come off genuine for me. All month I sat there and fretted about it, and I was going to go with an idea I didn’t even feel good about just because the end of the month was coming up, when finally the idea hit me in the face… the love of reading! I was surprised how easily The Summer I Fell in Love all fell into place after that… and what shocked me even more, was that it was somewhat of a tribute to my favorite childhood author, Anne McCaffrey, and looking back at the images after the fact, I found Nathan’s grandmother to look a bit like her! Hahaha!
“Also looking back at this year of writing short stories, I’ve found that I really tested myself in tone… like, I always believed that I could not write humor for the life of me, but it seems that plenty of people have found our everyday antics — or should I say, your antics, Casanova! — to be downright hysterical. The Writer’s Lament and Mastress Alita and the Tomb of Lost Tomes really let me try to explore writing in a way that would make people laugh. On the flipside, I also got to write some real tearjerkers I didn’t know I had in me! I still to this day can’t read For the Love of Furbabies without getting teary-eyed. I have that same problem with the short story I wrote for Purple Day Sims as well, Remembering Earl.
“So thirteen stories and an Award for Dedicated Creativity later, and I’m still not sure if I have a favorite… I mean, they are all like children, right? Though, I do have a secret soft spot for Bibliotaph. I’ve been world-building this Amazon Challenge story world for ages, and had no intentions of having the Word-Eater’s mythos be a part of it, but after this story… it’s like… I just can’t let her go! She and her bard wormed their way into me. And I really would like to revisit the cast from Play Your Ace for an Ambrosia Challenge… ah, so many stories, so little time! What is that look for, Casanova? Uh… of course all my most favorite stories were the ones with you in them!
“Hmm… my tea is gone and my headache medication is definitely saying it’s time for that nap. But before I do, there is just one more thing I need to write this month…”
This was written to thank Carewren123 for hosting the Monthly Short Story Challenge thread at the Sims forums from August 2015 through October 2016. I discovered this thread shortly after I joined the forums in October of 2015 and have entered a short story every month since then, and I hope the story above really illustrates just how much it has meant to me, as a person and a writer.
Carewren is a fantastic lady, Simmer, and Short Story Challenge hostess, and I wish her all the best in everything that she does! Keep calm and Carewren on!