It’s All Greek To Me…

New Greek Deli/cafe in Moreton-in-Marsh

New Greek Deli/cafe in Moreton-in-Marsh

Writing Buddies

Do any of you out there have a ‘writing buddy’? Someone who supports you and your writing (and for whom you do the same?).

As many of you know, Sally Jenkins is my writing buddy.

We met on a one-day writing course a few years ago (I’ve lost track of how many!) and we’ve been swapping work for feedback and meeting up, at regular intervals, ever since. In fact, it was Sally who convinced me we should both attend a course on ‘Starting to write a blog’.. and the rest is history…!

I’m writing an article for Writing magazine on ‘Writing Buddies’ so if any of you can tell me your experiences of finding or working with a ‘buddy’ – good or bad – that would be wonderful!

Thank you in advance..!

Writing Class

My writing class has finished now for Christmas and we ended on a ‘bang’*, with a mini short story competition, judged anonymously in the class and a Christmas literary quiz. Then we all went round to the lovely new Greek Deli that’s recently opened in Moreton, for a festive drink!

There it is, pictured above (but we didn’t sit outside! Bit too chilly).

I must admit, as much as I enjoy teaching the class, it does take up a lot of time (actual time and ‘thinking time’), so it’s good to have a break over Christmas.

We’ll be starting again on Thursday 9th January at the NEW (IMPROVED!) time of 10am – 12pm, so if anyone out there lives anywhere near Moreton-in-Marsh (not far from Stratford!) and wants to join the class, get in touch. I am looking for 4 or 5 ‘newbies’!

*Actually, lots of bangs. It was yesterday, very windy and everything was falling over (almost including me, as I staggered along the High Street to get there!)

Costa Short Story Award

As my fellow blogger, Tracy Fells, has already mentioned in a recent post, the shortlist for the Costa Short Story Award has been published and you can vote for your favourite.

I love the ‘mystery’ surrounding this competition: the fabulous cash first prize (and prestige) is bound to attract some big names from the writing world but as it’s open to anyone, there’s always the tantalising possibility that a complete unknown will scoop first prize and beat off the likes of Tracy Chevalier and Ian McEwan! And the six finalists are all anonymous at this stage. (the only thing we can tell you is that, sadly, Tracy and I are not amongst them!)

Have a read/listen and come back and tell me which is your favourite.

I’ve only had time to read one so far. It was engrossing from the very first line and beautifully-written but I found the ending a disappointment. I know a short story doesn’t have to tie up all the endings but for me, it just left too many questions unanswered and read like the first chapter of a novel – with a cliffhanger at the end – rather than a short story.

Interestingly, when I was at my ‘Writing Day’ last week, I got chatting to a novelist, who also runs and judges a short story competition and she told me that ‘poor endings’ are the biggest problem she sees with the entries for her competition. Too many otherwise great stories, are let down by the endings.

Food for thought, isn’t it?

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9 Responses to It’s All Greek To Me…

  1. Christine Steenfeldt says:

    Hi Helen – I’ve got a writing buddy and we meet once a week for an hour. We set our goals for the writing week ahead and report back to say whether or not we’ve achieved them. I think articulating what you want to do helps it become a reality rather than just starting your week off with a fluffy idea about what you might want to get done. And it also helps to movitivate you if you know that the other person will be a bit stern about why you haven’t done what you said you would do! I’ve read three of the short stories so far- am saving up the rest for the weekend. I haven’t got to the one you’re referring to as I don’t remember one with an unsatisfactory ending. I’ll let you know what I think when I get to it.

  2. Tracy Fells says:

    Thanks for the mention, Helen 🙂
    Re story endings – yes, this is something we saw a lot of in the West Sussex Writers’ National Competition (which we’re running again) where good stories were let down by their endings. I guess the top tip is don’t start writing a short story until you know the ending and work towards it – but I know many writers don’t work this way and still write cracking stories!
    Think my writing buddy has to be Wendy Clarke, but we may not be true ‘buddies’ as we don’t swap work. We just drink coffee and eat teacakes on a regular basis, and of course we talk about writing…

    • I find endings difficult, Tracy – and I know that it’s something Della Galton (who’s written and published hundreds of short stories) says she often struggles with, too. If you’re not careful, the ending of a story can sound a bit ‘twee’ or glib or .. well, just rubbish, really! But I’m definitely going to work on my endings for competition stories (and any others that I write!) from now on!

    • Oh and yes, I think Wendy is perhaps a ‘cake buddy’ as well as a writing buddy! But there’s nothing wrong with that!

  3. charliebritten says:

    I had a writing buddy through the chapterseventynine site when I was trying to write my novel. I’m very happy to answer any your questions.

  4. philippabowe says:

    Hi Helen,
    My writing buddy would be my sister, who provides unwavering support for my writing and, being a playwright herself, excellent technical advice and considered feedback whenever I need it – even at the last minute before a comp deadline! And of course it works both ways, although she calls on me less frequently as her writing projects tend to take longer than mine. One of the most invaluable aspects of her support is that she will say “no, that doesn’t work” – it is surprisingly hard to find someone willing to offer constructive criticism.
    Short story endings: yes, very challenging, finding the balance between “and they all lived happily ever after” cliché and unsatisfactory limbo…

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