Wednesday, 17 December 2008
Thursday, 11 December 2008
I'm feeling slightly more cheerful today, despite being very busy wrapping and posting several presents for relatives and friends who live further afield.
This afternoon I found out that my story, Lady Killers, had been shortlisted in the WriteLink Xmas Chillers Competition. There were 100 entries and 27 were shortlisted (includes the winning stories).
My writing hasn't gone well this week, as I've just been too busy. I still haven't finished the 3,000 word story I started on Tuesday and I doubt whether I'll have a spare moment tomorrow. There's always next week! In the meantime I must finish writing my Christmas cards!
Wednesday, 10 December 2008
Tuesday, 9 December 2008
2nd Prize - Let's Change Loving by Amanda Field
Joint 3rd Prize - Colouring In by Suzie Lockhart-Smith
Such Terrible Devotion by Dorothy Schwarz
Tuesday, 2 December 2008
Last week I entered four competitions: Debut Magazine Comp; Lichfield and District Writers; ‘On the Edge’ Competition and Writersdock Short Story Competition. Wish me luck! There are two I want to enter closing in December and I really must research a few more. I do prefer writing more literary stories for the competitions when there are no taboos regarding theme and language!
I’m finding the women’s magazine stories harder to write. I feel more restricted and can’t write as freely. However, I was editing two stories I’d earmarked for literary competitions when it occurred to me that they’d also sit quite comfortably in Woman’s Weekly. Again, word length is a problem. I just found out today that Take A Break feature stories of 1,100 words and I’ve just shaved off 100 words to fit what I thought was a 1,000 word limit. Damn!
As for The Yellow Room Short Story Competition judging…..I’ve almost finished. I’m trying to decide on first, second and third. Unusually, there isn’t a clear winner for me this time. Nothing stands out and grabs me as an out-and-out winner. Perhaps it’s just me.
Finally, I’ve had very little feedback on The Yellow Room Magazine. The feedback I’ve had has been very general and only three people have voted on the stories, which makes it hard to justify paying the winning author £20! So come on, if you’ve read the magazine, get voting!
Friday, 28 November 2008
However, this week I've been focusing on competition stories, as there are several competitions closing on the 30th November. I invested in Carole Baldock's bi-monthly mag, Kudos, which helpfully lists a whole host of writing competitions. I've entered three competitions this week so far and hope to enter a fourth today, but I'm not sure whether I'll get my story polished enough in time. I've written a completely new story, which I'm really pleased with (one of those which seemed to write itself) and reworked four others so far. I've really pulled some older stories to pieces and rewritten large chunks. I'm still not convinced they work, however. We'll see.
My main gripe about short story competitions is the word length. Now, as a competition organiser myself, I realise that it's a huge task reading through 100+ entries and if the word length is over 2,000 words, then the task is even more difficult. However, as a writer I don't like the 2,000 word limit. My stories are usually well over 2,000 words, and won't be shoe-horned into fewer words. I was particularly disappointed to discover the Mslexia competition is only open to stories of less than 2,200 words. The story I had in mind for that is 2,500 words. I hate cutting when I feel the story works well at its current wordage. Does anyone else have this problem? If you look at competition listings, most state that stories must be under 2,000 words.
I guess the answer is to practise writing shorter stories! I'm off to do just that!
Sunday, 23 November 2008
I've finally drawn up the shortlist for the first Yellow Room Competition which closed on 30th September.
Here are the shortlisted entries in alphabetical order of entrant:
Emerald Cufflinks by Polly Card
Return Ticket by Michele Darnell-Roberts
The Rain In Spain by Oliver Eade
Let's Change Loving by Amanda Field
Hunting by Rona Frith
A Present for Mummy by Judy Hodson
The Day Kennedy Died by Sue Johnson
The Beads of Change by Julie Ann Lee
Colouring In by Suzie Lockhart-Smith
Changing by Jenny Morris
Such Terrible Devotion by Dorothy Schwarz
Monopoly by Lucy Smith
Where I'd Rather Be by Sarah Steele
At the Laundrette by Sarah Steele
Sunflowers in the Ukraine by Lynne Voyce
Nina and the Fish by Jo Waterworth
Being Human by Jo Waterworth
The Hardest Stone by Elizabeth Wells
I hope to announce the winners in the next week. Watch this space! Good luck to all.
Friday, 21 November 2008
Tuesday, 11 November 2008
The weather was cold and mostly wet. However, we found plenty of things to do, mainly revolving around Megan's interests. She was in her element as we visited a petting zoo and she go to hold not only a large rabbit and a guinea pig, but two snakes, one of which was rather a large python! She's a braver soul than me!
I love this photo of the Menai Bridge joining Anglesey to the mainland. This is the view from a little pub called The Antelope, which does very cheap and tasty bar meals. The Pinot Grigio wasn't bad either!
On the last night of our holiday there was a spectacular firework display over the lake at Brynteg, the site where our holiday lodge was situated. They also built a huge bonfire, which added to the general autumnal atmosphere. It was Halloween and I found a tacky pair of flashing devil's horns for Megan to wear. Highly appropriate! It also made it very easy to spot her in the crowd.
Thursday, 6 November 2008
Sorry about the photo! Whenever I take photos of books I seem to get this awful glare on the cover. Anyway, you get the idea!
I was hoping to write about my week away in Snowdonia with husband and two children, but the lovely photos Nige took are too big to upload and he has to make them smaller. Instead I thought I'd tell you about this brilliant little book I've just finished reading.
I came across Della Galton some years ago now (at least ten!), as she was (and still is) one of the most prolific short story writers for the commercial women's magazines I'd come across. I'm not sure how I first got in touch with her, but we exchanged a few emails and she was incredibly generous with advice and ideas. She's the sort of person you just know is lovely and want to meet.
As far as I know 'How To Write and Sell Short Stories' is the first non-fiction book Della has written and she has a real gift. I think this is one of the best books on short story writing I've read (and I've read a lot!). It's short, punchy and succinct; very much like the stories she writes! Della has had tremendous success in the commercial women's magazine arena. Pick up any of the current 'womags' and you'll probably find at least one story by Della Galton. How does she do it? It's all in this book. As you usually find with prolific and successful writers it comes down to persistence and hard work. Write, write, write. Submit, submit, submit. It's the only way. The more you write, the better you get at it, regardless of the genre. This is probably why I'm not that good a writer! I don't do enough of it! But that's another (long) story and another blog entry.
If you write any kind of short story (there's a chapter on writing the literary short story and stories for competitions), then do buy this book. There are tips from the experts (women's magazine writers and editors mostly), even advice on tax and record keeping. It's the kind of book you refer to again and again. It can't fail to inspire you. It has given me a much-needed kick up the backside, I can tell you!
Anyway, I'm off to write.
Tuesday, 21 October 2008
Friday, 17 October 2008
Not the best photo in the world! These are just a few of the best books I've written this year. If you scroll down a few posts and keep looking on the left hand side, you'll see I've added a list of my favourite books this year as well as a list of blogs I regularly read. I'll add more lists in the near future.
I haven't achieved much in the way of writing this week. I've done a fair bit of blogging, I guess, and written a little more of the story I'm writing for Writelink's Christmas Spine Chiller Competition. I keep getting my priorities all wrong. Hopefully I'll do better next week. Once I've finished labelling and stuffing envelopes for the first issue of The Yellow Room, that is!
Thursday, 16 October 2008
I’m still reading The Yellow Room Competition entries. There were 115 in total. Nothing has hit me between the eyes yet, but I have shortlisted a few.
I’ve started a new blog called The Purple Kitchen (http://thepurplekitchen.blogspot.com/), which is all about healthy eating, trying to lose weight and exercising. There’s a fair bit about the psychology of it all as well! I hope you’ll take a look!
Tuesday, 14 October 2008
I've been reading some of the 115 stories entered in the first Yellow Room Short Story Competition. The magazine is at the printers and there have been a few details to address there. I should be taking delivery of the first issue on Monday. Isn't it exciting? I've also been busy organising Megan's birthday party (ten pin bowling with fifteen 7-year-olds on Saturday!), and sorting out a costume for her history day at school today (I bought the material, her Nan made it and Megan looked lovely!). I've been dabbling with short stories again, as the novel is just too big a project to face at the moment. I've also been trying to get my head together generally. Oh yes, and I've been reading novels! Did I mention ironing, shopping, vacuuming, helping with homework, cooking, finding new recipes, reading blogs, emailing friends, writing letters, going for long hikes with friends, going to the gym, keeping up with Strictly Come Dancing and It Takes Two, taking my mother-in-law to the airport....? Makes me sound busy, doesn't it? However, I've felt like a lazy slob the past month or so.
Anyway, the iron is switched on as I write. I did two shirts, then took a break to write this. See what I mean about bitting and bobbing? I'll probably iron two more; switch it off; go to gym; then switch it back on this afternoon! I've stopped telling myself I must focus. I just can't do it!
Tuesday, 30 September 2008
This isn't quite the yellow room I'd imagined, but all I could find! It's a bit too bright, isn't it? Not exactly the cosy little den I'd envisaged. Anyway, just to say that it should be just two more weeks before The Yellow Room Magazine is ready to send out to subscribers. Exciting, isn't it? I can't wait for the feedback! I hope we'll have a few lively letters pages similar to those in QWF.
The Yellow Room Competition closes today. I'm hoping for a few more entries in the post, but so far we have over a hundred, which isn't bad considering it's the first year the competition has been running. I'm rather miffed with Royal Mail, as our post wasn't delivered till 5pm yesterday. What's all that about? I remember the good old days when I lived out in the sticks and it was always delivered at 7.30am. The day doesn't feel as if it's started properly until the mail arrives.
I'm almost up to date with submissions and have about three to read. However, printing off acceptance and rejection letters is proving difficult, as my printer needs a new black ink cartridge and it seems as if Viking no longer do their 'order before 12 noon and deliver same day' service. Oh well.
On a more personal note, I've been researching a 'way of eating for life' in the hope of dropping at least another stone and keeping it off. I haven't found the answer yet! And I'm hungry!
Friday, 26 September 2008
I've overdone it on the exercise this week and I'm so stiff; so tired. You know when it hurts to sit down; hurts to stand up? I just want to lie down and read, which is just how I'm going to spend the morning, I think.
It all started with a Spin class on Monday morning. Not feeling great after overindulging on the wine the day before (well, it was my birthday!) really didn't help. After the class I just flopped on the sofa and moaned about feeling exhausted the rest of the day. Tuesday and my calf muscles were screaming. I could barely walk down the stairs. However, it didn't stop me going mad with the housework (what got into me?) and doing an hour on the Wii Fit (including lots of 'step'). Wednesday and my calf muscles were screaming even louder. However, I bravely set off for my Legs, Bums and Tums class, after running a mile or so on the treadmill. And there we had to do more step aerobics and lunges off the step during which I thought my calf muscles were going to snap. Pain, pain! Thursday and my calves were okay, but my hamstrings and glutes were aching like mad. But it didn't stop me going to the Cardio Tone class where I was subjected to an hour of Jane Fonda-type aerobics called Body Attack. Lots of dancey-type moves which I hate. Felt very poncy. I had very little energy and kept looking outside at the sunshine, wishing I'd gone for a long walk with my friends instead. I spent the rest of yesterday wincing every time I sat down and feeling about 92.
It's been a rubbish week for writing. I've hardly opened up my novel file. I feel very guilty about it and annoyed with myself that I seem to have shifted my priorities almost without realising it. Exercise and diet have become my primary focus again. Why? Because I felt very fat. Because I overindulged on wine and chocolate at the weekend. Silly, silly, silly. When will I ever learn? However, I'm feeling slimmer now, thank goodness, and can perhaps do a little less exercise and more writing next week.
I've just rediscovered Marge Piercy after a very kind writer friend bought me her novel, Three Women, for my birthday. I intend to tuck into it any minute now! Gone to Soldiers is one of my all-time favourite books. I recommend it.
Thursday, 18 September 2008
I've also come to the conclusion that writing and exercise don't mix. Shame, because I love both. And I will do both, obviously not simultaneously. Let me explain.
I joined a new gym this week and it's brilliant! I'm fired up with enthusiasm for my exercise regime once more. It had been in the doldrums for a few months. This new place runs various types of exercise class, which is a novelty as the last gym I belonged to for 7 years hardly ran any, and then only boring old Pilates or similar. This week so far I've been to Legs, Bums and Tums and Cardio Tone. Sound quite tame, don't they? Believe me, they weren't. I made the mistake of running on the treadmill for 2 miles and rowing just over 1000m in 5 minutes before the Legs, Bums and Tums yesterday. Talk about hard on the legs. I don't think I've ever done so many squats and lunges as I did in that class! However, it was great fun. I felt quite cocky this morning, as I didn't ache.
Today I went along to Cardio Tone. The instructor warned me at the beginning that there was a fair bit of boxing and martial art type stuff involved. I wasn't fazed. After all, I'd been doing the Davina Cardio Box at home. It was brilliant! Such fun and the instructor was like one of the Gladiators. We all went for it to a stomping fast dance track. I've never packed so many punches in my life. I'm on a real high now after all the 'whooping' and martial art-type noises you make when you're going for it.
This brings me on to my first point. High impact exercise is at odds with the state I need to be in to write. I think I have to be in a kind of semi-comatose state to do the latter. Lost in a kind of dreamy other world, which lends itself well to slobbing around in pyjamas and eating naughty things like chocolate, biscuits and cake. Oh, and mustn't forget the odd glass of wine. Whereas aerobic exercise makes me crave high energy salads and copious amounts of water. Exercise makes me feel very much part of this fast-paced world we live in and to be 'out there'. The two activities just don't marry well at all. I'm perfectly comfortable in both 'states', but it's difficult being in both frames of mind on the same day.
I must keep working at implementing 'the new regime'. I have to write first thing and get that 'at least an hour's worth' done. It would be two hours worth, but my exercise classes tend to start at 10.30am. Such a dilemma!
Tuesday, 16 September 2008
I've just written a (hopefully) moving passage in my novel. I've tried to depict a traumatic episode in one of the characters' childhoods. Not easy! I want tension; drama; a sense of sadness and innocence lost. I also want to avoid mawkishness and sentimentality. Very difficult. I was feeling upset as I was writing it, so maybe that's a good sign!
I'm devoting most of today to sorting out The Yellow Room admin. I have lots of rejection letters to write and very few, if any, acceptances. It's very difficult to know what to say when rejecting someone's story. It's their baby, after all. I just give my honest opinion as to what is wrong with it and why I don't want to publish it. However, I realise some writers get very discouraged by this and are almost put off writing. It's a worry that I might be crushing someone's confidence to that extent. However, the last thing I want to do is compromise the quality of the fiction in the magazine. It's not easy being an editor, you know!
Finally, I've just read a lovely tribute to Richard Wright, the Pink Floyd keyboard player who died yesterday http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/neil_mccormick/blog/2008/09/15/richard_wright_the_great_gig_in_the_sky. I was hoping to see the original band members in concert once more in my lifetime, hopefully with Roger Waters as well, but it is not to be.
Monday, 15 September 2008
Today has been interesting and different. I got called a 'dizzy slag' by a horrid man who almost stepped off the pavement in front of me today, despite having seen me approach. I haven't felt right all day since! I was on my way to the hairdresser's for my six weekly trim and was looking forward to some pampering. This stupid man ruined it all. Why couldn't he have been more patient or crossed the road in a safer place? Even hairdresser, David's gay anecdotes didn't cheer me up. Then tonight I found out Richard Wright died today. He was the keyboard player and one of the founder members of Pink Floyd, one of my favourite bands. He was only 65. He died after a short struggle with cancer, it seems. I hadn't realised he composed the song, Great Gig In The Sky, which we played at my first husband's funeral.
I'm somewhat vexed that The Yellow Room still isn't at the printers. I was hoping it would be ready to send out to subscribers this month. Now it's looking less and less likely. I had issues with the design AC had come up with and he's gone quiet on me. He's busy working. I have also allowed myself to be overcome with submissions and have a pile of rejection letters to write. The prospect doesn't fill me with joy.
But it's no good, I just have to cheer up, because it's my birthday on Sunday! I'm looking forward to a Sunday roast meal out and cake! My diet will be forgotten for three days this week. I think the cake eating will have to begin on Friday.
Did I mention I'm going to look at a new gym tomorrow?
Monday, 8 September 2008
Our holiday apartment was situated on the top floor of this lovely old house with some spectacular views over the Atlantic and the islands of Jura, Gigha and Islay:
Friday, 15 August 2008
I've just got time for a quick post before we head off on holiday this afternoon. We're staying overnight tonight in Kendal (M6 on a Friday afternoon.. are we mad?), then travelling on to Muasdale in Kintyre tomorrow. I hope the weather stays fine. There's nothing worse than travelling in the rain.
Monday, 11 August 2008
I haven't been doing a great deal. The children have taken over and I don't seem to have the energy for anything else (apart from a few long walks last week). I haven't been to the gym in nearly two weeks and feel very out of shape. My wine consumption has also increased from one glass per night to two. Can I blame the school holidays for my lethargy? I have been reading a lot, however, and have now purchased all eight of the Richard and Judy Summer Reads. It has been the only project I've felt capable of completing.
I still have a pile of The Yellow Room submissions to read. I'm still proofreading the first issue of the magazine, but hope to be able to send it off to Andy Cox for typesetting before I go on holiday on Friday. All I can do is apologise for my tardiness.
We're off to Kintyre on Friday for a week, with an overnight stay in Kendal to break up the journey. All I've heard all weekend from various friends and acquaintances has been, 'Be prepared for lots of rain. You don't get much sun up there. It'll be cold, you know. Take some jumpers.' Thanks! I hope to prove them all wrong and come back with a suntan! I'll be posting pictures here when I get back. Oh, and I won't be Paul McCartney spotting, as I've just discovered he's halfway through a month long road trip across Route 66 in the US. Damn!
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
Yesterday I was ferrying children around to friend's houses, swimming lessons, the dreaded McDonald's (first time in over two years we've set foot in there!) etc, then sitting in the driver's seat once more to do another drop off and pickup, the car wouldn't start. After several attempts and knowing deep-down that I was wasting my time, I nipped in the house to call Nige for assistance. Fortunately (or not for him!) he'd just arrived home. He concluded within two minutes of fiddling that it was the fuel pump. How do men do that? I piled the children into my husband's car and continued the ferrying around in that (lucky he was home a bit earlier).
And how fortunate my car was on the drive at home when it decided not to start and not on the forecourt of McDonald's! How fortunate that it didn't wait another week or so, otherwise we'd have been stuck on the M6 on the way to Scotland. This is called positive thinking as opposed to my husband's mutterings which went along the lines of, 'These things usually come in threes,' and 'I worked those eight hours overtime last Saturday for nothing'.
So.. instead of going to the cinema today to see Kung Foo Panda, we're stuck at home. Megan has been very philosophical about it (must take after her mother!) and said, 'Never mind, Mummy, we can make the worm farm today instead!' I can't wait!
Wednesday, 30 July 2008
I wasn’t feeling too well yesterday. I think it was the result of a poor night’s sleep. I had a niggling headache most the day and the last thing I felt like doing was driving down the M6 and into the centre of Birmingham. But, I’d promised Megan a trip to the Sea Life Centre and she was so excited about it, I couldn’t let her down. She'd been swatting up the night before, reading her 'Animals Who Live in the Ocean' book. Once we were inside the Sea Life Centre, she took one look in the tanks and told me what the fish were. Very knowledgable. I was impressed!
Last night I did the final judging for the Novel Beginnings competition. It wasn’t too difficult in the end, as there was a clear winner. I knew as soon as I read the entry. A clear, concise writing style, a smattering of humour, creating a desire in the reader for more. Now I have to write the dreaded judge’s report!
Monday, 28 July 2008
Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, playing to one’s strengths. Technology and computers certainly aren’t mine. Editing, reading critically and being creative are more in my line. I don’t see anything wrong with admitting one’s weaknesses and handing over to someone who knows better (see Part One above!).
I am currently judging a competition called Novel Beginnings. Entrants were asked to write a synopsis and first chapter of a novel. This is more difficult than it first appears. It’s so easy to find fault with other’s work and less so with one’s own. Most of the synopses I’ve been reading are flawed. They certainly wouldn’t make an editor want to buy the novel. They’re just not arresting or interesting enough. The plots sound clichéd and the characters nondescript. There’s no mention of a sub-plot. Good things like active verbs, thumbnail character sketches, flavour of the writing style, not too many characters, clarity of purpose are missing. Bad things like waffle, generalisations, not enough action and muddled/convoluted plot are in abundance. And the first chapters? They aren’t much better. There’s often a lack of narrative tension; lack of attention to detail; no hook; lack of arresting use of language. They’re all a bit too ordinary and banal. I’m struggling. I’ve read most of the entries now and I haven’t found anything worthy of a prize. It’s quite depressing! The optimist in me is hoping to find a gem in the last three or four entries.
Finally, a note to those who have submitted work to The Yellow Room. What with all this judging and kid-type stuff I haven’t had a chance to read or make decisions on the ever-growing pile of manuscripts I have here. I’m so sorry, as I know how frustrating it can be for writers who want to send their work out elsewhere if it isn’t suitable. Please be patient and I hope to clear the backlog before September.
Tuesday, 22 July 2008
Monday, 7 July 2008
So what have I bought recently? I guess it's always interesting for magazine subscribers and contributors to find out what the editor enjoys reading for pleasure. I'm ashamed to say I've been sucked into the Richard and Judy Summer Read hype this year and have purchased several books from the list. I have The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton(I enjoyed The House at Riverton so much last year); The Outcast by Sadie Jones (mainly because it was recommended by Lynne Barrett-Lee, a friend of mine on a writers' forum); No Time For Goodbye by Linwood Barclay (liked the sound of it after seeing it reviewed on Richard and Judy); East of the Sun by Julia Gregson (because I was buying books on amazon and wanted to qualify for free delivery and it was only £3.86 and it is another R&J Summer Read with great reviews on amazon); Dieting Makes You Fat by Geoffrey Cannon (because I read an article about it in yesterday's Sunday Times and I'm always looking for ways to lose weight without dieting... suspect it's impossible!); and The Road Home by Rose Tremain (loved The Colour and this one was on prominent display in Smith's and sounded just up my street ie. slightly edgy).
I'm saving most of my new purchases for my holiday in August. I'm just about to start reading Iris Murdoch As I Knew Her by A.N. Wilson. I bought this about 2-3 years ago and it's been sitting on the shelf unopened ever since. I had an Iris Murdoch phase as a student and keep promising myself I'll re-read her novels, but haven't got round to it! I also loved the film about her life starring Kate Winslet. I particularly enjoyed the scenes showing Iris's dirty house with leaves all blown in from the front door and just left in the hall. That's how strange I am!
I've just finished reading The Long Afternoon by Giles Waterfield. Again, this was purchased some time ago and was sitting on the bookshelf for about 2 years. It was recommended by another writer friend. It's about a couple's life on the Riviera in the 1930s and what happens after war breaks out. It isn't exactly a gripping novel, but it definitely has that certain something which makes you just have to read till the end.
I must recommend a book I finished a few days ago. Our Spoons Came From Woolworths by Barbara Comyns. It's about a Bohemian couple living in the 1930s with very little money. The focus is on Sophia, who marries at 21 and lives to regret it. It reads very much like a memoir, but it is, in fact, a novel. A slim volume which could be read in one sitting.
Now I really must finish that typesetting. Crisis in that I can't fit in all the stories I wanted to publish this issue!
Wednesday, 2 July 2008
I recently conducted a mini poll on a writers' forum I belong to and asked how many hours per day people spent sitting writing. I was astounded to learn that the average was 4-5 hours per day. So that's how novels get written! I've since realised that the longest I can sit still is about an hour. I feel this need to be constantly 'on the go' and 'doing things'. Things which involve a lot of moving around and getting practical things done. I feel restless if I sit at the PC for more than forty-five minutes. I just can't sit still for long enough to be a proper writer. Oh dear! What is the remedy?
Celia Brayfield in her book, Bestseller, recommends that we get up from our computers and take a break by walking around the garden, letting our minds roam free. This allows our right brain to start working again. Nice if you have the time. Today, for example, I feel compelled to do housework as my son has a new friend visiting after school. I also feel obliged to make cakes for the occasion. And I have to fit in my forty-five minute exercise session. See what I mean?
I've recently purchased more books on 'how to write a novel', because I need all the help I can get. The aforementioned Bestseller isn't cutting it for me, although I quite like Celia Brayfield's 'ten stages' - the heroic journey of mythology and have made notes. I'm finding Sol Stein's How To Grow A Novel much more readable and useful. I've only just started it, but the section on openings is great, although I'm not sure I learnt anything new. As a voracious reader of novels I think I've picked up a lot of tips subconsciously. Putting them into practice is another matter, of course.
Another bright and sunny day here and what am I doing? I'm off to clean the bathroom.
Monday, 30 June 2008
I'm so set in my ways. I realise I do similar sorts of things at the same sort of time each day. The fact that my husband was in the lounge eating breakfast (he finally got out of bed at 11am) when I wanted to be in the lounge eating lunch and watching Loose Women, caused me a great deal of stress. How dare he! I took refuge in my office, bashing away at the PC and swearing at Publisher as I plodded on with the typesetting.
Peace at last, as my dear husband has now gone out for a ride on his motorbike. Of course I have my own opinions about what he should be doing (cleaning my car, putting together a garden bench I ordered, treating the garden fence and shed to name a few), and ignore the fact that the poor bloke doesn't have the luxury of doing the things he enjoys day-in, day-out as I do.
Better go and do some ironing, even if it's just to prove to him that I do useful things when he's out at work and don't sit around enjoying myself all day!
Friday, 27 June 2008
I have to say that one of the most common reasons for rejecting a story is because it isn't suitable for the magazine. I wonder if some writers have even read the guidelines for submission. The Yellow Room is a magazine with a predominantly female readership, yet I still get stories set in a man's world or which don't address women's issues or concerns at all. Another problem with many stories I receive is that, although they show promise and begin well, they just peter out. It's as if the writer hasn't given the story's ending any thought at all. The worst kinds of ending are those which seem tacked on or rushed. You can almost hear the writer thinking, I've run out of ideas now. I think I'll just finish the story here. Again, as a writer I know how difficult endings are to write. I invariably end up killing someone off. Death always seems like the ultimate ending, I suppose. I know this isn't the way forward and that the reader ideally needs to be left with a feeling of hope or feeling uplifted at the end of a story. It's much easier said than done!
I think as writers we all need to work on our weak areas. I know mine are plot and endings. Each time a story is rejected we need to think how we could improve it or how we can improve as writers. No story is perfect. Sometimes I accept stories because they really speak to me and tug on my emotions. I can't stop thinking about them. The writing may be slightly flawed, but I can ignore this if I'm absorbed in the writer's world. There are some stories about which I can't make up my mind. I have to put them to one side, think about them, then go back and read them a second or third time. Sometimes it's very difficult to decide whether to accept them or not. There's usually a nagging suspicion that something isn't quite right, but I just can't put my finger on what it is. Then it's very difficult explaining to a writer why I have rejected this particular story.
I've been typesetting again today. I feel as if I'm finally getting somewhere with it. It is a rather troublesome job and is time-consuming, but bizarrely enjoyable and addictive. Maybe that's just me.
Thursday, 26 June 2008
I do find being out and about so inspiring. I had lots of ideas for my writing. I also found a lovely delicate little red wild flower, which I picked and brought home, as I didn't know what it was and wanted to look up. I know I'll use it in a piece of writing in the near future. There was also a little wood with two very old kissing gates on the path, which I'll use in a story. It was like going back in time.
I haven't done much in the way of typesetting today. Megan had a friend to tea after school (the second time this week), so I was in demand! The girls played nicely on the whole, but I had to scrabble around in her bedroom for dressing up outfits, then in the shed for the play tent and so it went on. I did nip on the PC while their tea was cooking and tried to transfer a story into Publisher, but it was fraught with problems. I was just a bit too tired and distracted probably. It will just have to wait until tomorrow.
I'm tired now (8.10pm) and relieved I don't have to go out and water the garden as it's raining. Looking forward to a couple of glasses of wine once the children are in bed and a chance to read in peace as hubby is at band practice. This is the life!
Wednesday, 25 June 2008
I've been putting off the typesetting for the first issue of The Yellow Room for weeks. I'll admit I was afraid I wouldn't be able to do it. I don't know what's happened to my confidence lately, because only a few years ago I would have plunged in and thought, 'What the hell!'. These days I have to make myself do new things, otherwise I'd quite happily stagnate at home, stuck in a routine in familiar surroundings. I even plucked up courage last week to meet up with two women in the local area who had expressed an interest in a walking group via the Woman and Home website. I'm so glad I did, as it was great to combine exercise with a social life.
So, onwards and upwards. Feel the fear and do it anyway. All the old cliches are coming out of the closet as I give myself a good talking to. I will not wilt into middle-age. I will pursue new experiences. But right now I'm off for a cat nap before collecting Megan from school!