I think that most writers start off with the plan to write the next great novel, a magnum opus that could easily turn into a trilogy or even a twenty novel grand epic. I know that I certainly did. In the course of my life, I’ve even completed two novel length rough drafts, though my momentum falls off when it comes time for rewrites and revisions.
Recently I’ve started scaling things back a bit, focusing on short stories. I found I prefer the instant gratification of banging out four or five drafts of a five hundred to two thousand word sprint versus the marathon trudge that is a fifty thousand word novel.
Another great thing about short stories is the contests. Some give you feedback just for entering, and there’s always a chance for prize money and publication. I’ve been hitting webspace pretty hard trying find contests that seem like a good fit. A few days ago I stumbled on one that hit a weird number of rage triggers.
The prompt was vague, but completely inoffensive. The length was standard, as was the submission process (they didn’t want anything crazy like typed manuscripts via carrier pigeon or anything like that). What set me off was just a few words from the contest description.
They open stating their commitment to the freedom of imagination, saying they aren’t too choosy on genre. They then list the three fiction genres they find acceptable, and close out with a list of six genres they don’t want, which of course includes science fiction and fantasy. Not too choosy? I don’t think that phrase means what you think it means.
Now, as you can tell by the vast number of stories that I’ve posted here… hmmm… nope. Well, as you can tell by what I’m about to tell you, I’ve had a lifelong love affair with sci-fi and fantasy. Asimov, Gibson, Gaiman, Shelly, Rothfuss, Dick. All great authors, all considered to be LITERATURE, but all ineligible for this contest. But they aren’t too choosy.
In a perfect world, my reaction would have been calm. I would note the restrictions on genre and either flex my writing muscles and try something new or realize the contest wasn’t for me and moved on. But those three little words kept bouncing around in my head. Not too choosy. So I did what any reasonable person would do, I stewed for a few days and wrote a blog post venting about it.
So what do you think, fine readers? Am I being too sensitive? Are these people being too exclusive? Were they just not choosy enough with their words when writing the contest description?