A woman, by Ephraim Moses Lilien (1874-1925),
Last March I lost my mojo.
There are prolific writers who write thousands of words every day and several books a year. I see them on Facebook in various authors’ groups I’m in, and on Amazon where they release books with regular, clockwork consistency. I envy them but I realize that it is futile to want or strive to be like them. I have my own rhythm which is slower and more laborious. Still, it is a rhythm, a continuous flow of ideas and work.
But last March, something unexpected happened. I had just finished the fourth draft of my novel, the one I was working on for much of last year, the one I’m preparing for publication towards the end of 2021. I sent it to beta readers and was left in a sort of limbo.
I couldn’t get any useful idea in my head, neither could I plan any plot, deliver a newsletter, post a blog entry.
I think it was a combination of the internal and external - the fourth Israeli election in just under two years was about to take place and it looked like my side was going to lose, yet again.
Be that as it may I couldn’t pen a single word.
Then, a promotional email landed in my inbox. A writing contest was taking place and for a $50 fee, writers were invited to publish their work online and get critiques from fellow competing authors and judges.
Normally, I would have ignored this, there are numerous contests going on all the time, whether for free or for a fee, all vying for our words. But something about the promise of getting both a peer review and a professional critique captured my attention - I’m a novice writer and my stuff isn’t read by many people. Every pair of eyes is a bonus. It was the last day to enroll - I had no time to chew on it. So, I committed the fifty dollars.
Propelled by the thought that I now needed to justify the expense, I sat down to produce the short, themed story they were asking for.
Here is a quote from the contest’s guidelines:
“The theme of this contest is Life vs. a Fate Worse Than Death. Turned into a werewolf. Narrowly escaping being eaten alive by piranhas. Doomed to a long life wracked with guilt. Whatever the “fate worse than death” in your story is, there’s no question that the stakes are high. “
The theme and the 1,500-word limit were actually liberating. I managed to commit words to paper again, to write a story.
Being a Romance author that incorporates erotic elements into her story-telling I wanted the ensuing short story to reflect my essence as a writer.
I later found out that since the hosting site was not restricted to 18+, Erotica wasn’t encouraged. My story is attached to this email, and you can judge for yourself whether a trigger warning is warranted.
The idea of a restricting marriage, a loveless, arranged marriage from the woman’s point of view suggested itself right away. Many marriages, especially before modern times and the ability that was given to women to earn their own bread and to divorce, were a life sentence. They constituted, for many women, a fate worse than death. Because I enrolled late I had little time to develop my story, I had less than a week. I needed to rely on strong source material, one that has no copyrights on it – yes, you guessed it - the Bible.
I won’t tell you who the story is about, so as not to spoil the ending. If you like it, or wish to pass your own critique on it, please write back, I’d love to hear from you.