Flash Fiction Challenge

When you’re a baseball player it’s easy to quantify success – batting averages and games won are accountable to the very concrete rules of Maths. When you’re an artist, or a musician, or a writer it’s a lot more subjective.

That being said, my Round 3 Flash Fiction story didn’t make the cut. I have mixed feelings about that. Looking at it as objectively as possible, I know round three was the poorest of my submissions. I do think the piece was reasonably executed, particularly since I whipped it out in less than 14 hours due to unavoidable obligations. I know that it fulfilled the genre, the structure was good, the imagery was likely better than good. However, it was pretty much a run-of-the-mill ghost story. No points for out of the box creativity and the entries that placed for advancement were exceptionally inventive.

Here’s some cool things that resulted from my first ever writing competition:

  • After never even considering writing a ghost story before, I completed 2 of them. One of them was successful enough to take top marks in the round.
  • After 2 rounds, only 29 of 2100 contestants had accumulated more points than me. That felt like a concrete measure of success. Because Maths.
  • I received a lot of constructive feedback from both peers and professionals. I feel that it made me a better writer.
  • It instilled discipline. Just like baseball, writing is a skill. Sure a person may have latent talent, but it still requires practice and hard work to hone it into something of value.

Best of all it gave me the confidence to polish and submit some pieces for publication. To some of the Big Ones. And while I’m realistic in my expectations, it’s a bit of a thrill knowing that someone at The New Yorker (and The Atlantic and The Georgia Review) is reading my work.

It’s also been a gateway drug. I’m currently enrolled in the next competition, NYC Midnight’s Short Story Challenge which begins mid-January.

Happy writing…


I just received the judges’ feedback for this piece. It cracks me up because it totally confirms what I wrote above about how assessing writing is so subjective.

Under “What the judges liked” commentary:
{1713} Dale was well-developed and the story flowed well, with a concept that I liked thoroughly. The breaks made it especially well-conceived.…


Under the “What the judges felt needed work” commentary:
{1598} The hard breaks dividing the story into sections give it a choppy feel.



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