My Writing A-Z… S is for SAND

S is for SAND

OK, that’s just an excuse to use this photo of gorgeous Old Hunstanton beach in Norfolk, which looked like this ‘on the ground’:

Old Hunstanton Beach, Norfolk.

Old Hunstanton Beach, Norfolk.

and like this:

Old Hunstanton Beach from the cliffs

Old Hunstanton Beach from the cliffs

from the top of the cliffs.

We were there for 4 days last week and it was really perfect: sunny and sooo dog-friendly.

S is also for SUMMER

Some of my blogging buddies – for example, Wendy – have been writing about how difficult it is to knuckle down and write in the summer! There’s so much to do outside and less of an urge to hibernate! Winter is much more condusive to writing, I suppose. But bear in mind that if you’re sending work to the women’s magazines, they probably have fewer submissions during the summer months..! Just saying!

T is for TARGETS

Some of my writing students are very ‘anti’ targets. They had targets when they were at work, they tell me and they don’t want any more now! Or, they say, writing is ‘just a hobby’ and they don’t want to force themselves to write. They write, they say when they’re ‘in the mood’.

And that’s all fine. I understand. But if you do have an aspiration or a goal – whether it’s to enter a short story competition or complete a novel – then targets, I think, are important, even if they’re ‘loose’ ones – and sometimes ‘the mood’ has to be encouraged, coerced, even.

I often have to force myself to sit down to write, really not feeling like it but then, after a few minutes, when I’ve warmed up, it’s fine and I’m glad I made the effort to start. Time has a nasty habit of slipping away and unless you try to pin your goals down (with time slots, appointments to write and deadlines to meet) they just won’t happen.

T is also for TWITTER

I like Twitter but lots of people tell me they don’t ‘get’ it.

My writing buddy, Sally, says it feels like ‘lots of people shouting’ and I think that’s a pretty good description. It can be like that but I think it depends who you follow. If I follow anyone – individual or organisation – that just keeps telling me about their latest book or offer that I might like to BUY, BUY, BUY . then I’m afraid I just ‘unfollow’ them (ah, the power of that ‘unfollow’ button!).

T is also for TEACHING.

If anyone’s interested in setting up their own class or teaching creative writing in any context (eg: for the U3A, perhaps), then look out for a NEW non-fiction e-book that I’m launching this summer! (erm, she says optimistically! No, it’s mostly written, but still got to ‘fine tune’ it!).

My class has finished for the summer and I am still in two minds about whether to start it up again in September, for lots of reasons. I do enjoy teaching but it’s very time consuming. Last term I was spending the equivalent of one working day on each class (including preparation, delivery, homework marking and various emails…), which is crazy.

I know some people would say – don’t spend so much time preparing, don’t take in homework, don’t answer emails – but I can’t do that. If I’m going to do something, then I like to do it properly, or not at all. (*gets off soap box*)

U is for UMBRAGE as in ‘taking umbrage’

I was ‘umming’ (ooh, there’s one) and ahhing about what to choose for ‘U’ but then an email popped into my inbox and eureka, I had it!

The title of the email was: RE: QUARTERLY SHORT STORY COMPETITION ENTRY (SUBSCRIBER).

It flashed through my mind that perhaps I’d WON the latest Scribble magazine short story competition that, as a subscriber, I have free access to! First time I’d entered, too…

I clicked on the email and read, “… I regret to advise you that this item has not been accepted for publication. I am sorry you have not been successful this time, however, I am always pleased to receive good quality short fiction and I would be very interested in seeing any further material you think may be suitable….”

Ah, so my story wasn’t ‘good quality short fiction’!

I must admit, for a few moments I ‘took umbrage’! How dare they! Who are they and what do they know anyway?! I wanted to email back and ask ‘what was wrong with it?’ But then I calmed down and that thick skin, in which a little chink had just appeared, sealed over again (urgh, I sound like a lizard).

You can’t afford to ‘take umbrage’ when you’re a writer, right? You just have to shake yourself off, remember it’s only one person’s opinion and get on with it.

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This entry was posted in E publishing, Finding Time To Write, Short Stories, Tweeting and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to My Writing A-Z… S is for SAND

  1. Keith Havers says:

    My dad was from Norfolk and I’ve been to Hunstanton many times. It hasn’t changed much over the years. I’ll be interested in your new e-book, Helen.

  2. Thanks Keith – I’d better get on with it then, hadn’t I, seeing as I might have one sale…!! Lovely part of the world, Hunstanton and Old Hunstanton. We could quite happily have moved there last week!

  3. Sandra says:

    I could really identify with your last point. I recently was a runner up for Writers’ Forum crime short story. I received a letter telling me this, and saying “However, I’ve been asked to publish a summer short crime fiction magazine featuring stories from professional writers but your story is easily good enough to be included.” I was thrilled, of course, “but the simple use of the word “and” instead of “but” would have really been the icing on the cake. 😦 Have a good summer!

    • Sandra
      Congratulations on being runner-up in that competition! In my (admittedly, fairly limited!) experience of judging writing competitions, it’s always been a really close call between first and second, so you were probably just a whisker away from winning. Take heart and confidence from that! And yes, I agree with you, just a change of word from ‘but’ to ‘and’ would have been more encouraging, wouldn’t it?!

  4. Alice says:

    Hi Helen, you know I’ve had that response from Scribble loads of times and have always taken it to mean that they do consider my work good quality, despite not wanting a particular story on this occasion, and therefore would like to see more material. Maybe I’ve been deluding myself all this time though!!

    • Alice, I was being a bit ‘tongue-in-cheek’ about them not thinking my story was ‘good quality’, so don’t worry – I’m sure you haven’t been deluding yourself. Competitions are so subjective and if they really didn’t want to see more, they’d leave that off their email, wouldn’t they?! Good luck with your next submission.

  5. I’ve looked at Twitter but have come to the conclusion that I’d have to spend so much Time learning what the symbols mean, reading other people’s Tweets, and composing my own that I’d never meet my Targets!

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