Silver Linings…

It’s been an interesting year.

Everyone seems to have an opinion about 2016, be it good or bad. Political turmoil and celebrity tragedy aside, I have found that a number of these moments have kind of tainted my year end. With that came a skewed view of the year, retroactively. It became a dark cloud that threatened to envelope the last three hundred sixty-five days when in reality, it’s been a pretty good year.

Truly, it’s not an epiphany I came to on my own – no emotional realization is ever my own doing. It’s the work of a lot of different sources talking me off a lot of simultaneous (and metaphorical) ledges. But eventually, I usually come around.

Like always, when I finally do, I strap on the optimism and redouble my efforts to be a positive influence. Really, that is my favorite thing about this time of year. The unbridled love and kinship for our fellow man, even and especially in the face of adversity. It’s so easy to be bleak, but to cling to optimism and look with blind hope toward the coming year, that is magic. It’s a wonder we haven’t found a way to manufacture this sense of togetherness and optimism at other points of the year. It really is something we should work on.

Obviously, that ball drop at midnight is not some magical eraser. The new year doesn’t come as a clean slate that forgives and forgets. Pain and loss will still be there, depleted savings will still be depleted. But there is hope. There is always hope. And like last year and many years before it, here I am again, ready to draw back the curtain on a coming year.

I wish that you have all the best things happen to you this next year.
I hope that you find joy in all things, no matter how small.
I pray that you not only feel the goodness in the world around you, but that you push that goodness forward into all those around you.
And I hope that even if none of this happens to you, if nothing good happens to you at all, I hope that you still have a silver lining to gaze upon.

I wanted to track down some sort of inspirational quote to sign off the year with, but I kept thinking back to something I wrote myself. It’s self-serving, yes, but it’s also something I mean with all my heart. It was the first taste of holiday goodness to reach out to me this year, and I hope it instills you with the same fire that possessed me to write it in the first place.

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Thank you all for a wonderful 2016.

Happy New Year.

Round 2… #flashfictionchallenge

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On top of a glorious Farewell to Summer camping trip, this past weekend was also Round 2 of the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge.

“But Andy,” You might say to yourself. “What about Round 1’s results?”

I’m glad you asked.

Round 1 went far better than anticipated. In my group of 35 writers, I managed to place 4th. The feedback was bolstering, and I hope to have as good (if not better) news from the judges after Round 2 concludes.

It’s a scary proposition: of 2100 writers, only 300 will move on to Round 3. I’m confident that I submitted my best 1000 words for the challenge, but really all I can do is hope my stories are good enough when compared to the competition.

Keep your fingers crossed for me, I have lots of typing to do before Round 3 starts.

A lot can happen in 48 hours…

Just ask Las Vegas.

Oh, nothing so drastic is happening in my life, I assure you. But I have managed to (almost blindly) stumble onto a writing competition, write a short story inside of 48 hours, and submit it for judgment.

The skinny: The NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge 2016 is a competition to create a 1000 word (or less, but certainly not more) story  in 48 hours – based on 3 thematic criteria submitted to contestants at the beginning of the competition. Contestants are divided into groups, each group having their own criteria. After two challenges, the top 5 in each group will move on. I’m hoping to be part of that Top 5, but I have no idea who I am competing against.

Well, that’s not completely true… I’m competing against a lot of people from around the world.

My group represents 20 different states and 5 countries… of which, I am one of 35. Stiff odds already, but then consider that my group is one of 60. My chances of success are diminishing the more I think about numbers, but what can I do?

I can stop thinking about the numbers.

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The fact of the matter is this:

Someone handed me a list of requirements and said, “Hey. Write a story with this stuff in it. Oh, and it’s due in 48 hours.” And I did exactly that. I reached into my brain and pulled out what I think is a pretty good story – especially for the circumstances. I can control nothing else in the situation, so I’m not going to stress about it. I’m going to wait, and I’m going to see what my score is when it comes back.

The optimist in me says, “Hey, you wrote another story. You’ve already won!” I’m going to run with that.