Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Back of Beyond

I don't really live in the back of beyond; it's a small town on the edge of the Peak District with distracting views (if you don't look too closely at Sainsburys in the valley). It has some quirky, individual shops that are tempting when you're trying to keep hold of your cash, and a dilapidated library that rumour has it will be improved at some point. But is there a writing group here? No. Within a five mile radius...? Err, no.

In my grand quest to improve my writing, the thing I really need is some feedback; proper, unbiased feedback, preferably from people who know a little bit about writing. I am going to pay for a critique of one of my novels (one day - perhaps when the library is renovated), or perhaps even embark on a writing course, if I find time between washing uniforms and cooking uninspiring meals. (The uninspiring meals are often what causes the need to wash the uniforms.)

So joining a writing group seems like the obvious thing to do next to improve my writing. There's no way I can commit to the nearest group, however, which meets weekly in a market town twenty minutes' drive away. As I pondered this problem, (ignoring the little voice that suggested I set up my own writing group and let the children wander around in sweaters stained with spaghetti bolognese), I realised that the internet could be the answer. There must be online groups, surely?

And I was right. There are groups. And more groups. And more....and now I'm paralysed by indecisiveness. How am I meant to choose? And, since using one is not as defined as 'Monday night at 8', what if I end up spending so much time playing around in an online writing group that I use up all the time I'd tagged for writing in...? Or am I just afraid of stretching myself?

Would love to hear other people's experiences and recommendations!

Monday, 14 October 2013

Three to go!

I made the ghost story deadline with only 24 hours to spare. This is my idea of living on the edge...I've had a look at what next (concentrating my thoughts on the next project does make rejection easier) and was slightly shocked to see that the end of my year of stories is approaching fast.

 There's an adult fairy story to submit, which is already at second draft stage (thank goodness. I look ancient enough with the strain of four children, without going grey over deadlines) ; a flash fiction story which will, at least, be fewer words to conjure, although it will need a lot of skill; and then a final story for December which has a given first line. 

I think that final one will be the hardest as I have no ideas what I will write yet, and I know that the deadline will rattle towards me amongst all the Christmas chaos that comes at the back end of a year. But I'm starting to believe I might make it - that I might actually write and submit a short story for every month of the year. 

It will be time then to plan a writing goal for 2014... How are you doing with your writing goals this year? I'd love to hear what goals other people have set, and maybe I can steal one for next year!

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Sod's law

If anything that can go wrong eventually will, I might as well embrace pessimism now. I'm certainly working my way through a variety of disasters from the mild and faintly humorous to major and life-changing.

The four-year old, finally mature enough to remember house rules like: "Only draw on paper", drew on the wallpaper at the top of the stairs. A row with my husband cast a cloud over a day. The baby has a strange growth on her inner lip. (The doctor says it's fine and will go away.) A friend had bad news at a hospital appointment. Steam from the dishwasher has made the veneer peel away from the cupboard door, and I really need to fix that before the four-year old spots it and makes it irreparable.

But, "Sometimes things don't go, after all, from bad to worse..." (Sheenagh Pugh). Writing Magazine thumped through the letter-box this morning, and I turned straight to the short story competition, and saw my name in the short-listed column. Wow. Then I looked at the letters page and my name was there, too. Little successes are enough to sweeten a day, even if they can't erase worries about people I love.

Maybe there's a reverse Sod's law  - anything that can go right, eventually WILL. (I might as well be unrealistically optimistic as pessimistic - it's more fun!) What better reason to persevere, than believing that things will eventually go the way you imagine?