The next best thing to getting published is to win a writing contest. This spring I won first place in a Writing Contest for Faculty/Staff at the community college. My story, “The Reader,” will be published in their Fall 2012 Literary Magazine, “The Explorer.” Their reading and creative writing classes use this as a resource. I would love to sit in on one of the classes to hear the student’s comments.
I tried writing, “The Reader,” as a children’s story. It didn’t work. So I changed the characters and the setting. But the plot remained the same.
In the story an adult student does not like to read. In fact, he hasn’t read an entire book since middle school. He freaks out when the instructor gives the class their first assignment, “Read a book and write a paper about your reactions to the story.” A friendly librarian suggests a book that she thinks he might like. It changes his world forever.
My story has a hint of science fiction, which is not my favorite genre. It stretched my imagination and believe it or not, it was fun to write. This old librarian especially enjoyed writing the scene where Sam visits the library:
As soon as I walked through the library door, the alarm beeped loudly. I froze. “Stranger danger,” I muttered. Everyone turned and looked my way. I put on my most innocent face. “I don’t have anything illegal.”
The librarian stuck her head around the corner. “Come on in. We’ve had trouble with that thing for the last few days.”
I tried to disappear into the stacks. Up and down, I walked through the aisles.
The place was neat and organized. I wondered what the librarian, obviously a neat freak, would do if I took my arm and swiped all the books from a shelf onto the floor. Probably have a heart attack.
I spotted the DVD section, but steered myself away. I found books about nursing and cookbooks. After I had lapped the stacks at least three times the librarian approached me.
“May I help you find something?” she asked.
“Where are the fiction books?”
“Follow me.” I trailed behind her toward the back of the library. She touched the ends of three long units of shelving. “Here, here, and here.”
I ambled down an aisle, tilted my head slightly, and read a few titles. I was reluctant to pull a book from its space. Maybe I was waiting for a book to jump from the shelf and shout, “Pick me!”