I’d been bombarded with an injury and had only one week until the deadline. I stared at the screen. No way. I wasn’t even going to try.
Just so happens, I mentioned my decision to a couple co-workers. They balked at my throwing-in-the-towel attitude and encouraged me to enter the competition.
“What do you have to lose?”
Sleep, maybe. But then I’d have a story in the making, even if it wasn’t so good at first. I let my concern over not having time to let an editor read it over trip me up. However, with their friendly badgering, I decided to go for it.
How do I start writing a futuristic battle when I’m not military nor do I have close relatives who are? I talked to another co-worker who had, that’s what.
I learned which websites to visit for ranking and which movies to keep in mind for fight scenes. I asked about when it’s appropriate to salute and who goes first. I paid attention to how former military co-workers talked to each other. The challenge became that I was talking to someone from the Air Force, but I needed to write a story for the Army. There are differences many civilians wouldn’t even notice.
I spent the next couple days searching the web and even discovered maps and historical data for the “fake” countries mentioned in the contest requirements. In the meantime, an idea for the battle scene popped into my head. The rest was just brute force writing and revising. I even gave the in-progress paragraphs to my coworkers for feedback on realism.
In the end, I used the last names of those who helped me along as I heed and hawed over writing this short story as a tribute to them. I think I really made them proud.
The best part? “Battle at Kitee” brought some happiness to a dying man. That never would have happened if I’d refused to write this story.
So glad I didn’t listen to myself this time around.