Friday, 24 September 2010

you know it's time to step away from the laptop when

it's your first day off in a while, and although you really want to write, you're actually just watching wedding dances on youtube.

It's not like you even want to get married or anything. You just followed a link to a fairly good one (here) and from there you couldn't stop clicking all the other links like 'BEST FIRST DANCE EVER!' which, in comparison to the fairly good one, are really crap.

Suddenly you come to your senses, but you're not sure how long you were 'out'. You feel a bit sick.

You ask, Where has the day gone?

You curse the internet. And yourself.

You blog about it. You still feel a bit woozy.

You have a kiwi fruit to try to undo the badness.

Friday, 17 September 2010

how long does it take

Despite being really busy and only having one day off this week (today) I've managed to be pretty productive with writing. Have you heard that saying, something like, 'If you have something to do, ask a busy person to do it'? It's most likely snappier than that, but you get the idea.

Things get even busier next week when I start my new job - I'm doing some Education Support work at university. I'm a 'Study Buddy' to start with and will probably do some note taking, library support etc soon as well. I'm pretty excited because one of the students I'm working with is studying Creative Writing - hm, might have to hold back when I accompany them to lectures... don't get involved, Teresa, it's not about you...

So today I've been working on my story for the Asham Award competition. Not the story I was working on last week, oh no, a new one. I have about 2 weeks to have it ready, but I'm being relaxed about it. If it's not ready or isn't happnin then that's okay. I don't have to enter, I just really really want to.

Incidentally, how long do you take to write a short story? A friend told me that Alice Munro takes 6-8 months. I think that's fantastic. I'm heartened by that. When I started writing a few years ago I'd fire them out, and probably needed to seeing as many of them were crap. Less are crap now. Because I don't write as many.

Or it takes me longer. Ideas come and are batted about in my head, my notebook, my head etc, then I might leave them for ages, months and months. Sometimes they become a story, or get worked into a story.

It's hard to really know how long it takes, or how many I write a year. I remember reading, again, in the (my) early days, that Neil Gaiman writes 1-2 stories per year. Back then I was astonished at his pitiful output. Now I think, yeah, similar to me, if I count complete stories that I feel are finished.

What about you?

Saturday, 11 September 2010

closing and opening

A couple of established and interesting places to send your work to:

Biscuit Flash Fiction Competition
Stories between 250-750 words
£1000 1st prize, and an anthology of the best 10 stories
£9 to enter
Closes 14th September

These 2 are just for female writers (sorry boyz)

Mslexia New Writing
Stories and poems on the theme 'Departures'
Free to enter
Prize: Publication in the magazine
Deadline 17th September

Asham Award 2010
Stories under 4000 words on the theme 'Ghost or Gothic'
Entry fee £15
First prize £1000, 12 selected stories published in an anthology alongside especially commissioned writers
Closes 30th September (postal entries only)

For me, The Asham Award has been on my list of Places I'd Love To Be Published for quite a few years now. The competition only comes around every 2 years, and the anthologies published by Bloomsbury are gorgeous.

But I can't lie and say I'm not put off by the theme (it's the first time there's been a theme, it's usually open) but this week I have worked myself into and around it, wading past all the Very Bad Ideas I got when I first brainstormed 'Ghost or Gothic'.

I think it's fair to say that a themed comp has the potential to attract a lot of entries with similar plots, so the further past your first 50 or so ideas you get you have more of a chance of presenting something original to the judges. I wonder if the Asham theme will put off some short story writers who are a bit snobbish (I was) about writing to a theme they don't usually dabble in?

But I really wanted to enter. Like I said, it's one of my Writing Ambitions. And I want to see if I can create something I believe in from such a challenging starting point.

So, after some delving and note taking I have found a story, which I didn't expect to. It's maybe more suspenseful than ghostly. It's certainly not Gothic-y. But it's proving interesting to put together, and feels refreshing enough. I'm excited to be writing something brand new.

Other news:
Tomlit is back - check out the new look, and an a non-fiction piece by Tania Hershman.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

He draws me in for a hug

Me: Watch my hair, I don't want to have to do it again today.

He: It's done?

Why I oughtta!

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

This week-

  • A Big Spider ran at me. Well, not at me, towards me. In my general direction. I was on the sofa, IT was scampering across the floor. I screamed, Mario 'got' it without killing it and sent it outside. It's maybe the 4th Big Spider we've ever seen in our flat in the 5 years we've lived here but I will be constantly looking over my shoulder now for perhaps the next 3 days until the trauma has worn off.

  • I didn't enter any of the writing competitions I'd earmarked because I didn't have any stories that were good enough. There are some interesting competitions closing soon which I will enter and share the details about them with you here (what a charming and well written sentence).

  • I'm working on The Book Thing and will have the first chapter ready to send to writer friend Miles by Friday (with whom I have struck a 'Let's get off our asses and write our books' incentive deal thing.)

  • I'm wowed that it's September and feel a mix of relief: Busy Summer Holidays are over (working in customer service gets you like that), excitement: September is an exiting month, in a New Start Back To School kind of way (I'm not at school, but I have a new job based at the University and I do get excited around academic institutions) and sadness: the start of another new season without Mum, and the slow dread of Christmas, a tough time for me anyway, tougher still without her here. But right now, the sun is out.