As a kid growing up in Stratford, Ontario, I had no practical notion of how one became a professional writer of fiction. Such people lived unimaginably glamorous lives in New York or London, people who knew things I had no way of learning. Which was fine with me. I didn't need to see writing as a way of making a living. For me, it was simply a way of living.
Writing stories - even fantastical stories, or stories set in the distant past, or on the surfaces of even more distant planets - can be a way of finding something more valuable than knowledge, "marketable skills," self-expression. Your voice. A distinct, one-in-eight-billion point of view. What's essential in telling your story? Who gets to tell it? What happens in the story and what is it about (two very different things, I've come to understand)? These are all part of a writer's toolbox. More importantly, they are ways of helping us be fully human.
It's thrilling to think about so many of you out there working on new short stories for this contest. Have fun with it. Laugh, cry. Make us laugh and cry. Don't hold back. Be the director who shouts "Action!" Discover who you really are by creating lives that aren't real at all.          Andrew Pyper