Once upon a time, in 2014, to be exact, I found one of those newsletter thingies in my inbox, listing short story competitions and anthologies open for submissions. Usually, I delete stuff like that unread, or after a very cursory glance. I’m not much of a short story writer. That one time, though, something caught my eye. A wonderland-themed anthology. Tales featuring a girl named Alice, they said they wanted, who meets a white rabbit and has an adventure. I liked the idea, I had been toying with a handful of story threads in my head which losely fit the theme and just needed a little tweaking…
Side note: I’m not particularly good when it comes to reading and/or following directions.
… and within a day, I had a story of about 1.5 or maybe 2k. Which was when I began actually reading the list of criteria, which clearly stated 4k. Well, okay, I was heavily invested by that point, so getting deeper into the story, adding details, background, you name it, was no problem at all. The result was something I was proud of, and which the beta readers loved.
I never got to submit it, because I had been watching the wrong deadline the entire time.
That’s how particularly not good I am.
I could have chosen to be super frustrated, but that didn’t work, because I was already toying with the next idea, namely, forcing poor Alice through the next adventure. If I couldn’t get her into someone else’s short story collection, I would start my own. A remembered typo later (thanks, Mike, for the leftover bear) there suddenly was a lot more to tell, and then an overall arc evolved, and before I knew it, I had a 50k jumble which with a ton of help (looking at you, Karen) grew into an 84k novel, which I published in 2015.
It didn’t stop there either. Questions needed to be answered, neglected plotlines wanted to be continued, random remarks some characters dropped demanded to be dwelled upon…
And here I am, in the final editing throes of the fifth in the series, to hopefully be published some time next week.
None of this was planned, and I don’t know if Alice is done telling me her story, or if there’s more to come. I guess we’ll see.