Monday, August 21, 2006

My short story took first prize at Backspace

The guessing game is over at Backspace. The winners of Short Story Contest #15 have been called out and sorted. I'm thrilled that my short story SKETCHES took first place.

Do you write stories with soundtracks playing in your mind? I do, and did with SKETCHES. Music is a huge motivator in my life and there are songs I've always thought would play out to amazing stories. "Me and Bobby McGee," by Kris Kristopherson, is one of them. I think the longing for a simple life and a steady love reach into the psyche of the common soul. I was in junior high when Janis Joplin belted this song in my bedroom for the first time and I've been haunted by it since.

The song opens with, "Busted flat in Baton Rouge, waitin' for a train, feeling near as faded as my jeans. Bobby thumbed a diesel down, right before it rained, took us all the way to New Orleans." That song played unrelentingly in my mind while I watched rain fall every single day we were in New Orleans last month. I began writing the story while on the road from New Orleans to North Carolina. Every little town we passed had a Waffle House. Every Waffle House had a diesel truck in the parking lot. Rather than telling a story of the past with the MC and his girl Bobby, I made it a story for today with yesterday in the rearview mirror. I named the MC Kris as a tribute to the balladmaster himself.

This is what EJ Knapp said about SKETCHES: "Exquisite story, exquisitely written. The pace, the tension, the description. Connected to, yet never dependent on, a long ago tune, one possible future beheld, another unfolding, damn but you made the hair stand up on the back of my neck, brought goosebumbs to my arms. An absolutely beautiful piece of work."

I have, in fact, fallen in love with the MC and the broken girl. I just might keep this trip to California going for several thousand miles.

If you're a member of Backspace, you can read SKETCHES in Short Story Contest #15. If you're not a member, you can join here , or you'll have to wait until it's in print elsewhere. I'll be sure to let you know when and where.


Ewoh Nairb said...

Loved the story.

Helen Wang said...


Kathryn said...

Congratulations, Carolyn! I am looking forward to reading the story. --Kathryn

Devon Ellington said...

Congrats on the win!

I can only write to soundtracks without vocals. If I listen to words, it affects my writing. Unless I'm playing a character's type of music to help drive me when I'm tired.

So, mostly, I listen to instrumentals.

Ovation Leader said...

Interesting you bring this up, Devon. I have the same reaction to vocals when I'm writing. I usually listen to classical music of the period in which I'm writing (my novels are historical settings), the only exception is music sung in a foreign language. I played Andrea Bocelli's Romanza CD over and over while I was writing my first novel.

Oddly, I never played the song "Me and Bobby McGee" while I was writing Sketches, but the song is so imprinted in my musical memory that the vibe, complete with vocals, flowed while I wrote.