Thursday 30 September 2010

Time to hibernate yet?

After an outpouring of five stories in five days, I'm totally drained. The first drafts are all hand-written and I am currently typing the last of them up as well as doing the first revision. This is the longest of the stories, too, so that makes the task daunting, even though I am eager to see where the characters are going to take me.

Plus, I am tired; I feel as though I'll never have another original thought ever again. In fact, I'm starting to wonder whether these are original stories, or I've nicked them from somewhere.

I enjoyed doing the first, hand-written drafts because I was sat in the living room, watching some telly, as the sun shone into the room. To type them up, on the other hand, I have to sit upstairs in my draughty, freezing cold study. The curtains are closed because the light reflects onto the screen, and it's altogether a less than delightful experience; especially now that rain has replaced sunshine.

So, I'm going to do some housework, and hope that I get back in the writing mood later.

Saturday 25 September 2010

The link now works

As you might have gathered from the title of this post, the link to my story, Irish Green, on the Writers Bureau site now works. All the winning stories are on the same page, so you need to scroll down to about half-way to read mine, but obviously take a look at the others as well!

I've been incredibly productive over the past week or so, ideas for a short story collection I'm thinking of putting together are just flowing off the page. I woke up this morning and wrote the bones of a new story before my first cuppa! This has happened to me before, this constant flow of new ideas, but because I've been focusing all my attention on longer, novella-length stories, I've been ignoring the shorter work. Now I've given myself permission, I've gone into overdrive.

I hope you enjoy all the stories on the competition page.

Thursday 16 September 2010

Good news!

After yesterday's slight rant, I have to back track a little bit.

I've just found out that I've won third prize in the Writers Bureau competition (although the 2010 winners aren't on the site yet, so don't go looking for a couple of days). It was a competition that I'd written off, actually; I thought the date for letting writers know was in the middle of August, so I'm quite glad I hadn't sent it off again.

So, after feeling so despondent about my writing yesterday, I have come to the conclusion that I have a writing style that I cannot avoid. Some people will get it, some people will hate it, and some people will think it good enough to commend. I can't, and shouldn't, change what and how I write - I should just hope that one day the right people will read the right story at the right time, and I will get my lucky break.

Wednesday 15 September 2010

Rejection and submission - in that order

Yesterday I was rejected. I'm not too upset about it - over the past 15 years I've had many, many rejections. Some have been standard 'thanks, but no thanks', as was the one yesterday; others have been much nicer, some have been helpful and reassuring and positive.

No, what I do get upset about is researching the next publisher. Because so much can be found online - including exerpts of the books said publisher is currently producing - there is much more opportunity to compare my writing to others, and compare I do, usually unfavourably.

Part of the problem is that I am never writing what is popular. A few years ago you couldn't look at the blurb of - it seemed - any book without it being described as humorous, the most depressing, complex novels were all saved by humour. Today, this very hour, everything has been original. Now I know I am original, but when I'm forced to defend my originality against other works, I suddenly feel very ordinary.

I sent off the next submission package, but I am not feeling my optimistic best...

Tuesday 14 September 2010


Okay, ages ago - for some reason I can't remember now - I wanted to link to my story Beth, which won first prize in the Mary Gornall Competition, but it wouldn't work. Also, I didn't know how to link properly.

Anyway, I think I've sussed it now - I never said I was any good at this internet malarky - so as a trial here it is (fingers crossed)

PS. I feel like I can conquer anything now I've conquered that - bring on the WIP (work in progress, for the non-writers)

Saturday 11 September 2010

Past or Present?

I've just read this article,

I don't know where to begin... yes, I do - I write in present tense.

I don't do it because it's fashionable, I don't do it because other people are doing it. My first published story in 1994 was in present tense and it's how I feel most comfortable writing; it's not a conscious decision, anymore than the voice that emerges. I haven't eshued past tense - although I can't think of an example right now, I'm sure I have used it in the past (excuse the pun) and I'm sure for those stories it felt entirely natural.

I find the present tense adds urgency, a sense of foreboding (which creeps into my writing quite a lot) and draws the reader in.

When I am reading, I certainly don't notice the use of present tense as a device; I don't notice it at all. I am usually captured by the story. The style adds to the whole experience, indeed; but if it jars as much as Philip Pullman suggests, he's obviously not reading a novel that is truly engaging him.

(Apologies for still not knowing how to do the linky thing properly)

Wednesday 8 September 2010

Too much to do

So, I've noticed that there's a lot of time between posts at the moment, which I've put down to having too much that I want to do. Note: want to do, not have to do - which is a nice position to be in, but means it's much harder to prioritise.

1) I am writing two stories at the moment. One is being typed up after a long-hand first draft, the other is at first draft stage. In fact, it's at first page stage, which is daunting and exciting at the same time. The 'voice' is that of a teenage boy, but he's coming through so clearly at the moment, I'll see where it takes me.

2) Reading my new copy of the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook - yes, reading it practically from cover to cover, but missing out the bits about artists and writing for children. I love flicking through the pages of this book, pencil at the ready to mark the publishers, magazines and agents that seem ripe for a follow-up. And following up is so easy these days, since most have web sites so it's much easier to get a feel. And this leads me to...

3) Following up all the marks I made above. Except even this isn't as quick as it should be, because all the sites have links to follow, which I do, which means even more publishers, magazines and agents to consider. Although, there are a lot that get crossed off the list when their web site clearly states that they are not considering fiction at this time, or they only consider submissions from agents.

4) Considering self-publishing. I do this occasionally, mostly whenever I get a new copy of W&A because the articles they publish make it sound so simple and easy... and yet I know it wouldn't be. So I stop considering and start writing again.

Phew - no wonder I don't seem to get anything done!!

Wednesday 1 September 2010

Brand new story

I started writing a new story by accident the other day, and it's going quite well. There I was home alone with a glass of wine, flicking through the TV channels, when I suddenly found myself chanting several phrases to myself over and over. I wrote them down, then found I couldn't stop writing. A whole story poured out of my fingers. There are gaps - one section starts A month ago and nothing else follows - but I'm sure it will when I start typing it up... which is what I am going to do right now.