Wednesday, 14 March 2012

aaagh I hate it I hate it

Hm. This week I am cursed by writing that requires a theme.

First, there was an embarassing mistake. I entered a flash fiction competition - the Writer's and Artist's Yearbook February Flash - and didn't realise the call was for stories about 'The Lonely Writer'. I had read the guidelines - I just somehow skimmed over that essential bit of information. (Reassuringly, 2 other writers I know did the same thing.) I wonder what the judge must have thought reading my story which was so far away from that theme... eugh, it makes me cringe just to think about it. Nevermind!

And then I'm having real trouble writing a story based on 'Garden of Eden' for this absolutely amazin-lookin competition to win a place on a writers' retreat at Anam Cara - my dream retreat destination - has been for a while - so I really want to enter this. But the theme... I should say I have trouble writing to theme anyway, and usually end up with a piece of writing that feels artificial, but this one... ah I could scream at it! I hate it I hate it. Everything I write is contrived, and boring, and... I've been playing around with it, free-writing, trying to get beyond the obvious, but it's like pulling teeth. Only not - that's dramatic - stop it, Teresa.

I'd love to crack this and be able to write something that feels good and true to my kind of writing, so I'll keep on keepin on with it until the deadline (which is March 22nd). If you're feeling more inspired than me go here and have a look - it's a really fabulous prize.


Rachel Fenton said...

Ah, it happens to the best of us - I seem to make a monumental gaffe at least once a month!

Themed subs are difficult - it must cut down on the number of entries for a comp(?)therefore worth entering as high probability of winning.... Hmn - something random is the order of the day - look out window, first car licence plate you can make a word from, google, see where it takes you and bring it all back to the theme?

Teresa Stenson said...

Great advice, Rachel - that I didn't take. I took your support and encouragement and battled for another week and managed to get 2 stories that were sub-able. I think.

Good writing exercise - though I can't see any cars out me window. Just the roofs (rooves?) of the buildings around here, oh and a bit of the York wall. And some trees.

Hope you're well :)

Anonymous said...

I didn't see the theme (just spotted an uncanny theme-ishness among the winners). This was because the theme wasn't listed under the heading "February Flash competition" -- it came above as a kind of vague intro to competitions and writers being lonely. Obviously some people picked it up but even reading it now, it's not that clear.

Love the idea of you sitting on a bench above the sea at Scarborough, penning your next novel for the Mslexia comp -- go you! Wishing you every success with that, I bet it will be brilliant. Enjoy!

Teresa Stenson said...

Hi Martha - oh good, glad to know it wasn't such an obvious thing. They must have had quite a few entries that weren't written to the theme, then.

Thanks so much for your well-wishing with the novel. Not quite a 'next' one, I haven't written a whole one yet... but soon! Hope your writing is going well.

Miss McFish said...

Have just read this post. I missed the theme too, and I am soooo glad to read that many many other people who entered made the same mistake. Phew. Have been blushing every time I thought about my error...

(Relieved ex-Scarborian)

Teresa Stenson said...

Hello Miss McFish - I think we need to start a support group! "Did you enter the W&A's yearbook February Flash competition without realising there was theme? Been dissolving with shame every time you think about it? You are not alone..."

Miss McFish said...

Yes, let's get badges made! (And call me Mandy!)

Teresa Stenson said...

Mandy (hi) - I have a badge-making machine! (Well, access to one.)

Miss McFish said...

Hi Teresa, now we need an acronym for our group that will fit on a badge!

Maybe you could ask Vanessa how many of the stories were non-themed?! (Oh no, the shame has come over me again and now I am blushing and hyper-ventilating...)

In case you are wondering where I have appeared from, I've followed your blog since reading your excellent story in last year's Guardian comp.

I'm a part time writer of travel stuff and short stories, with a day job to pay the wine bill.


Teresa Stenson said...

Thanks, Mandy, really pleased you like the Guardian story. Do you have any of your stuff online?

'Wine bill' - love it.

Miss McFish said...

Hi Teresa. I'm not ignoring you, I have just got back from an internet-free holiday in Northumberland! (Read 7 books and did lots of writing..)

I do have a blog, but it's mainly my travel writing on there - no short stories as yet. if you want to take a peek.