The title of this post is the subject line of an e-mail I received yesterday. I thought it was a spammer offering me money if I’d only provide my banking information, so I almost deleted it. I am happy that I didn’t. My speculative fiction story “To Live Again“,won $100 and first place in Write Around the Block’s January short story contest. I have never won a contest in my life. I am thrilled.
“To Live Again“, holds a special place in my heart. It is the first story that I wrote back in 2002–a dog story with a twist. Second, as I previously posted, it was the first of my stories to appear in a print publication, so it became one of my milestones. I think that seeing that story on the printed page will always be my greatest thrill.
Those of you who know me will realize that “To Live Again” is loosely based on my life. The woman in the story who learns to take charge of her life through her dog is me. I drew on my own experience in an abusive marriage to create Allison’s character, who is too frightened to get out of bed and turn on a light at night. And during the day, she is too scared to leave her house. Then she adopts Vanquisher, a scrappy pit bull terrier mix facing euthanasia.
And so the story was born. I modeled Vanquisher after my dog Buddy, who I am sad to say, most likely came to the same fate as Vanquisher did in the story. Heavy sigh–if he hadn’t, there would be no story.
When I learned that Write Around the Block accepts previously published stories, I revised the story–the first version rambled a bit and had some other issues–and submitted it to the contest. I am thrilled that it won.
I will never consider “”To Live Again”” to be my best story, but writing it helped me learn the art of writing fiction. It will probably always be my favorite, especially because Harry and I recently adopted a black lab. Alex is sweet and mischievous and as beautiful as Buddy was ugly–like Sam in the story. He is intelligent and makes us laugh every day, especially when he squeaks his little plastic bone and does tricks for food. I love him, but he can’t completely fill the void in my heart left by Buddy.
Here’s to strays, shelter dogs and rescued dogs who continue to rescue their saviors.