By Katherine Valdez
Last fall, after nearly six years dabbling in creative writing, I thought about how I had produced dozens of flash fiction, blog posts, and essays, but no novels.
Most writers I know had managed to finish one or more drafts. Part of me felt like a failure, and the other part thought, “I don't have to do what everyone else is doing.” Some of my stories and essays had won Honorable Mention is a few contests and been published. They gave me the most joy.
A friend forwarded information about a new literary platform that would debut in October. Zathom's editors invite users to think of it as a “combination writing catalyst, microfiction literary journal, and social media platform – but when the sum of these parts is expressed, we are something different than any of those things.”
Zathom offers a variety of themes or idea words called Fathoms. Depending on the genre you choose, you write a 55-word piece of microfiction. Every piece is published, and the editors chose winners whose pieces are rated high by readers.
Prize amounts vary. For March, first place took $550.00. Second place took $250.00, and third place took $100.00. Honorable mentions are $10.00.
I answered the call for submissions with a few stories, and to my delight, the editors chose “Mr. Snuggles” for the website launch.
In January, they chose two of my nonfiction pieces and one of my fiction stories for payment. In March, the theme offered was heroes, and there were seven honorable mentions, including one of mine.
The Fathoms were Demon, Grace, and Mercury.
“Your Average, Everyday Hero”
You vanquished another demon with grace. All the gods think highly of you, even Mercury. Last time you visited Mount Olympus, he threw a feast in your honor. But it's nothing compared to the love of your human family. Save the world, kiss your husband and kids, unwind with Netflix. Repeat daily. This is Heaven.
Not Just another social media outlet.
Users can rate stories using upvotes, and follow favorite authors. You can also list social media accounts in your profile and gain new friends.
Zathom has boosted my creativity and motivated me to write almost daily: before work, during my lunch break, and in the evenings. I've received ego boosts from seeing my stories featured @Zathom37 on Instagram where the winning stories are presented.
When I publish a story and see readers have rated it four out of four stars, I'm motivated to keep writing. The same happens when a story garners two stars; I know I can do better.
It's interesting, most of the time, when a story takes only 20 minutes to write, it rates higher than those I labor over for an hour. I find it best to go with the first thoughts and images that come to mind.
Sometimes it's worth removing our angst from the writing process and take a risk. A really small one.