Last month “101 Words” published my piece of flash fiction “Creatures of Habit,” which you can read by clicking here. If you had to make a guess regarding the conceit behind “101 Words,” I bet you would get it right! Everything submitted to the website has to be exacting 101 words long, and their submission guidelines make it clear that anything even one word over or under will be rejected. That really cracks me up, and I like a challenge, so I wrote the mentioned story. The original title was “100% Match,” but the editors thought that gave too much away, so I got my third revise-and-resubmit of my writing “career.”
There are four basic responses to submitted stories, and the main response (for me) is rejection. The second most common response to a submission, sadly, is probably no response at all. The third most common response is the rare acceptance, and the fourth, the even-rarer reply consisting of notes on how things can be changed, followed by an offer to try again. The first two times I got a revise-and-resubmit my stories were ultimately rejected, but here I was pleased to finally get some success. And where did the new title come from, you might ask, that sealed the deal? And the answer: “From my lovely wife!”
Anyway, sometimes my favorite part of a Stephen King novel is after the story ends, where King talks about what inspired his stories and how that novel’s particular writing process went. I wish more authors took the time to do that, because I’m always curious. “Creatures of Habit” is roughly based on a cat-loving teacher friend. My first draft had about 150 words, and over a week or so I had to play the paring-down game. Additionally, titles had to be at eighteen characters or less, but this didn’t turn out to be a problem at all. Counting spaces, guess how many characters this title had, and on the first try? Thanks again, Leah!
–Jeff and Leah