A Little Minnow In A Very Big Pond

Here I am, writing my first post of 2013 and I’m having an ‘eeek’ moment.
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Firstly, the good news: yesterday Woman’s Weekly accepted a story that they’d asked me to rewrite before Christmas (I added 500 words for good measure!). The last two times I’ve been asked to do that, the resulting ‘rewrite’ has still been deemed unacceptable, so I was doubly chuffed.

BUT, since then, I’ve had a couple of wake-up calls.

I went to a workshop today, about e-publishing. I won’t say too much because it was my writing buddy Sally’s event (I just tagged along) and she may want to blog about it herself. Suffice to say, the writer giving the workshop astounded me with her output. She works full time but she still manages to write and publish – and sell – 4 e-books a month (they’re 6,000 – 8,000 words each. You do the maths!).

And then, there’s the writing day I’ve been invited to attend in a couple of weeks’ time.

There are 6 of us and the idea is that we all pre-circulate a story or extract of a novel by email. On the day itself, I thought (because I’ve been to a couple of these before) the idea would be for each person to take it in turn to read out their piece and then for everyone to comment on it.

So far, so good. (Needless to say, I’m still writing my short story for the day, in a mad panic).

Today, as I’d expected, my fellow-participants have started to pre-circulate their work. The first two novel extracts came through by email and I had a quick look at them, just to see, you know, what kind of thing they’re sending… and eeek! I nearly fell off my chair.

The first one is 23,000 words long PLUS a synopsis and the second one is 25,000 words! Is it me, or is that quite a lot to read and comment on (bearing in mind, there are still 3 people left to submit?!).

And that’s what I mean about feeling like a minnow. Everyone is writing SO MUCH! I’m just planning to write a short story of about 3000 words (and I’m struggling to get that finished). Aaaaagh….!

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20 Responses to A Little Minnow In A Very Big Pond

  1. Liz Green says:

    I have completed my first short story for well over a year today and only managed to complete 1,700 words. Though I was doing well, but obviously not.

  2. It should have been made clear how many words were acceptable to circulate. You don’t have time to read all that and keep on with your own stuff. Get back to the organiser and get them to clarify. Oh, and congrats on the WW acceptance.

  3. Great news on WW. Stick to what you’re best at, ditch it before you get in too deep I’d say.

  4. Christine Steenfeldt says:

    If it helps, you inspired me to write more when you commented in an earlier post about your output for 2012 which I thought was good. And I agree with Lynne, there should be a word limit for the group. 25,000 is a 1/3rd of a novel, for heaven’s sake. Of course, you haven’t said what the quality of the writing is. I could write 25,000 in a week but they wouldn’t necessarily be the right ones in the right order! Well done on your acceptance, by the way.

  5. Linda says:

    I agree with Christine – quality is more important than quantity. I’d be interested to learn more about the ‘4 ebooks a month’ writer. Does she spend time editing her own work, or hire a professional editor? If not, how can she be sure she hasn’t missed some of those typos and other mistakes that slip through when you’re writing fast?
    Congrats on the WW story. Rewrites are a pain but if that’s what the editor wants … 🙂

  6. I, too, thought the two novel extracts were too lengthy for such a group meeting. Our Writers’ Group in sometimes has up to seven or eight people and we only meet for two hours. I see it is a whole day event but even so I can’t imagine how this would work even with the extract pre-read. A fast reader can read at about 160-180 words per minute so a ten-minute reading would be between 1500 and 2000 words. Basically none of us goes beyond two pages and it all works out fine. Are these people really planning to read the whole 23,000? Let us know how you get on!

    • No, I suspect they will just read an extract – maybe 2,000 words or so. I’ve had the third one now – it’s 15,300 words! (Although at least the author is offering to post it out to us� – presumably the others are expecting us to print them out!)

  7. Jackie Sayle says:

    Helen – I’m just so grateful to you for making me submit any writing at all with your comps. The results of both that I entered buoyed me up no end last year after my long hiatus of not submitting.

  8. Heather Musk says:

    I suffered with this most of last year, worrying that my output was far less than everybody else’s. This year I’ve decided I’m not going to worry about it, it’s not a competition after all. I’m going to concentrate on a steady pace, doing what I can and making sure I actually finish things.
    Well done on the WW submission.

  9. KH says:

    Hi Helen – well done on the WW acceptance. As for the writing day event I think it’s asking far too much of you to read and comment on so much. I’d advise that it would be more sensible to submit as if to an agent – pitch, synopsis and first three chapters. Then you can comment on whether the writing and story capture and engage and whatever else you need to comment on. I’d be giving it a miss otherwise. Best wishes KH

    • Thanks for your comments – and everyone who’s been up in arms, on my behalf, about the amount of work I’m being expected to comment on!! As there are only 6 of us – and it’s a day that I’ve been looking forward to – I don’t really want to drop out now but in future I need to get clearer ‘guidelines’ before I agree to anything like this. If I’d known in advance what was coming, I might have made more of an effort to write something longer myself, for example! But now, with only a piddly short story to offer, I feel that I’m getting ‘short changed’ a little bit BUT at least it’s made me write something and I’m sure it will be a useful exercise, both to participate in the feedback (3 of the other writers are published novelists) and to hear what they have to say about mine… eeek. scary.

  10. I do agree with KH – pitch, synopsis and first three chapters. Also I think everything should b polished and ‘ready to go’ Di
    ps well done on WW. I was recommended by a successful contributor to send one of my stories but ‘it was not for them’. Never mind I will try again.

  11. PhilippaB says:

    Well done Helen for the WW story, a very satisfying moment! The question that springs to my mind about the prolific e-book writer: does she have children? If the answer’s yes, and there are no full-time nannies/boarding schools involved, then she is truly a wonder woman…I agree with the others on the excessive character of your writing day requirements, the stuff sent to you is freakily long. And you don’t need to feel like a tiny minnow: the important thing is that you’re in the pond and swimming happily around… 🙂

    • I don’t know if she has children. I suspect not, as they weren’t mentioned (and she was enviably young!!) But she does have a husband because he kindly ‘makes the dinner’ while she writes!

      • PhilippaB says:

        I suspect not too…but the dinner-making husband is very important, I have one of those (he taught me to cook), vital to my sanity!

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