Tag Archives: The People’s Friend

Writing Ambitions for the New Year

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We’re five days into the New Year, so plenty of time to have broken a few resolutions if you made any! I tried not to, instead I’ve bought myself a pin board and have pinned up all my “To Do” lists and “Aims & Ambitions” so I can see them every time I sit at my desk. I’m hoping this will keep me focused. (I’ll let you know how that goes…)

That’s the other thing – I’m making an effort to sit at the desk every day and achieve something. (I’ve been doing this since before New Year, so I don’t think it counts as a resolution.) A competition entry, a sub to a magazine, an idea for a future piece, an edit of something previously abandoned. I’m aiming to find a home for as many stories as possible (and by now, there seem to be hundreds stored in my Dropbox files!). I also found out about the Pomodoro Technique last night on Twitter’s #writingchat – it’s a very simple approach to time management  which breaks down tasks into 25 minute chunks with an enforced break. I think this might work for me (as someone who is very easily distracted!). Find out more about it here:

http://cirillocompany.de/pages/pomodoro-technique

I have, though, achieved one of my writing ambitions this week: I’ve had a mention on Shirley’s blog (Fiction Editor at The People’s Friend). My story “A Promise to the Past” appears in the first issue of 2017, and is the first story Shirley mentions in her “sneak peak” summary – you can read Shirley’s blog post here:

https://www.thepeoplesfriend.co.uk/2017/01/03/fiction-sneak-peek-jan-7-2017-issue/

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As you can see, the story is (as always) beautifully illustrated (by Jim Dewar), and my heroine is rather glamorous (I’m always a little startled by this!). Hoping this will be the first publication of many during 2017 – but it’s definitely a good start.

Anyway, my 25 minutes is up, so I’ve got to go! Happy writing…

 

 

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The Curse of the Folded Envelope Part 2 (In Praise of Editors)

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Arrived home the other day to…ugh…the brown-envelope-with-the-fold-down-the-centre-addressed-in-own-handwriting. Oh well. Husband hovered in the background (remembering last misunderstanding over such – see earlier post, ‘The Curse of the Folded Envelope’). This time the thickness of the envelope proved it must be bad news. A story return.

Well, yes and no. The story was returned, but with a long covering letter. Now this is new to me – in the past all my stories have either been accepted or flatly rejected with the usual standard letter. But here was a detailed letter from Shirley Blair at The People’s Friend saying overall she liked some aspects of the story, but had reservations about other aspects. I was very impressed that a busy editor would take the time to do this – her points were sensible, well thought out, and proved she’d really thought about the characters as people.

So over the weekend, I’ve been busily re-writing – hopefully to address Shirley’s concerns. She’s right of course; I’m convinced the story is now stronger. Sometimes you just need another good eye to point out those things you should have seen for yourself. I’ll have to wait and see if the re-working has been successful, but in any case, it’s been a useful exercise. And for anyone out there thinking of submitting to The Friend for the first time, be assured, Shirley is a very supportive editor.

Recharging the Creative Batteries

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This month’s Writer’s Forum magazine suggests taking a step back from your writing and having an “ideas week” as an antidote to burnout.  Well, I think I agree with their approach!

Just back from a week in a holiday cottage in Wales – sleeping, eating, walking, site-seeing – all very conducive to battery-recharging.  Have managed to return with at least one almost fully formed idea for a long story (possibly even enough for it to be the basis of this year’s NANO attempt), and another scribbled beginning.  Last night in that dozing moment before properly going off to sleep, I even had an idea for a potential amendment to a previously rejected story, so might have a crack at that today.

I deliberately didn’t take my laptop on holiday – partly, it has to be said, because the thing is on its last legs and tends to do rage-inducing things like randomly switch itself off whilst I’m in the middle of typing (and that sort of thing always seems to happen when you think you’ve written something spectacular, and the re-write never quite measures up). But partly it was just to have a change of pace. I took a notepad and pen instead.  And I scribbled.  It was fun.

Mid-week, issue No 78 of The People’s Friend Special was out, and it was an extra special joy to pop along to the newsagents in tourist-mode and be able to pick up a copy – which includes my story ‘Going Solo’ (with an excellent illustration by Jim Dewar – Judy is exactly as I pictured her!).  ‘Going Solo’ was a story originally written for my local writers’ group – yet another reason I have to be grateful for the group’s support, encouragement and deadline-provision!

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The publication of this story though has given me a bit of a slap as it’s the last thing that was “out there”.  I now have no other stories so much as submitted, let alone awaiting publication.  So it’s official: the holidays are over – time now to get back to work!

Making Hay While the Sun Shines

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The latest issue of “Scribble” magazine arrived in the post this week, and editor David Howarth writes in his From the Editor’s Desk… piece that this is the time of year when submissions generally tend to slow down.  As he puts it, “there are obviously alternative attractions during the summer months so writing sometimes takes second place”.

And I believe he is right.  Whilst I’m still putting pen to paper (or more usually, fingertips to keyboard), my output is not quite as prolific as it might be in the winter months.  More importantly, it is not as focused. My submissions to magazines have tailed off recently, and the stories I have sent are not necessarily ‘hot off the press’ as it were, but re-workings of old beginnings, or old ideas.  And though I’ve still been taking time to keep up with other blogs, I’ve not written much here for ages.

So, what is distracting me?  Yes, the better weather means it’s much more tempting to be in the veg garden, or with the horses.  And there’s lots of work to be done outside – we’re hoping to make our own hay for the first time this year, which might not sound exciting, but believe me, I can’t wait!

I have to admit though, that there’s a part of me which thinks all these outside tasks are a bit of a displacement activity.  I’ve been in a bit of a rut with writing over the last few weeks.  A few rejections in a row.  Not really having settled to any big writing projects.  General feelings of self-doubt.  You know the type of thing.

So, it was with incredulity that I read Shirley Blair’s email this evening accepting one of my stories for People’s Friend.  Honestly, I had to read the message several times over to believe that it was an acceptance (I’d been very doubtful about that particularly story’s suitability!).  Typically, Shirley’s message was upbeat and enthusiastic – the perfect tonic to my writing gloom!

So big thank you to Shirley.  As I noted down the acceptance in my “Submissions” book, I realised I’ve hardly any other stories “out there” still awaiting a decision.  It’s time to get down to some serious writing work.

But probably not until after hay-making!  😉