I decided to enter the Writer's Digest Annual Writing Competition in the Short Story category, and the story I'm submitting is called Outcasts.
The story is inspired by my interest in service dogs and involvement with Circle Tail, and also what I've learned about their Prison Training Program, where inmates train dogs in obedience and service skills. My story is about three outcasts: a man in prison, a mentally ill woman, and an abandoned dog. Their lives are intertwined, as the prison inmate trains the dog to be a psychiatric service dog for the mentally ill woman.
The inmate's name is Robert, and he was born to a drug-addicted mother and an absent father, and spent his childhood in and out of foster care before joining a gang. The dog is about to be put down in a shelter before he is chosen for training in the prison program. The woman, named Abby, is schizophrenic and socially awkward, and has no close relationships.
The story is about whether or not these three outcasts are able to overcome their pasts. Two do, one doesn't.
While this story is not at all based on a real person, I did have the opportunity recently to speak with one of the men who trained service dogs for Circle Tail while he was in prison. I really enjoyed speaking with him, and was inspired by the fact that his work with the dogs helped him to change his life. I plan to write about the charitable organization he founded and currently runs in a post for later this month.
For now though, I need to get busy finishing Outcasts, as the deadline to enter the competition is May 2. I always seem to let things go down to the wire, but in the past I've worked best when under the gun, so I'm hoping that will be the case this time as well.
If not, I noticed writers can submit work between May 3 and May 20 for a late fee. I can't help but think this late deadline was made for people like me. Someday I'll learn to stop procrastinating.