Saturday, April 02, 2016

All Story-ed Out

I don’t want this to be all about bragging - it's the bragging that made me leave Facebook - so I’ve used sub-titles to show you what you can learn from this.

Can’t write? Don’t worry.
All story-ed out is what I have been for the past few years. I’ve been writing and selling stories since 1981 so it was little wonder that my story ideas dried up. Did I worry? No. Did I miss story writing? Yes. But to fill in the gap I got busy with article writing and I have five regular columns to produce each month. Add to that the grindingly slow process of putting my cyclist’s life together and I wasn’t being exactly lazy. (see below) Now, suddenly, almost three years on, I’m getting story ideas again. Better still, I’m writing them. I remember Eileen Ramsay, the novelist, telling me about the fallow fields outside her home. She compared them to writing. It didn’t look as if anything was happening in those fields but things were busy underground and in the Spring… well, we all know what happens. Life (ideas) return.

Who told you that you were lazy, had a big nose, flat feet…?
Many of you know that, as a child, my mother told me I was lazy because she was always on the go and I was always curled up with a book or pen and paper. If you believe anything bad about yourself, ask who told you this and question it now you’re an adult.

Don’t let rejected stories fade away
I sold a couple of stories during those story-less years but they were old ones which had been turned down. Now they’ve sold. I often wish I’d kept count of the sold stories but I stopped not long after 400. Count your successes. Take another look at those rejections and see if they can be improved. Maybe they can be shortened or lengthened to suit a different market.

Aim for more and more
Last month, March, I sent out seven stories and four of those were brand new. I hope to beat that in April but I won’t beat myself up if I don’t. If you sent out one last month, try for two this month.

Personal experience makes it easier
I had joined in an online discussion about nightmare guests. Someone had written about a guest who arrived at 2am shouting up to the bedroom window, ‘Coo-e. I’m here at last.’  That was my opening line for a new story. I remembered a couple of sets of guests who had not exactly been delights and I was away. It took me just over an hour to write the story because personal experience always makes it easier. I worked on it later and again this morning, changing words, moving sentences around and now reckon it’s ready to go out. My confidence is returning.

A little help from your friends
Up until yesterday’s story I had been sending any new ones to Glynis Scrivens, my cyber-sister, asking if they were any good. I had grave doubts about all of them but she assured me they were fine. I’d lost my confidence during the fallow years. Every writer needs a writing friend who will tell them the truth.

Recently I’ve sold to My Weekly, The People’s Friend and The Weekly News but this week I got what I had been wanting – an acceptance from Take A Break’s Fiction Feast.

16 comments:

  1. Well done on getting your mojo back, Lynne. My own problem is that having written several novels, I just can't get back into short stories. I do write, and sometimes sell, them, but (dare I say ) it's for the money rather than any satisfaction. I wonder if anyone else feels like this? I guess the freedom of a novel is so different from the constrictions of the short story (subject matter, length, vocabulary, even punctuation. The magazines always seem to remove my beloved semi-colons. Why?).

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  2. I write as a job, Frances, so it's always for the money, though it is something I enjoy otherwise I'd get a 'proper job'. Magazines don't use semi-colons or colons. They frighten the readers. I prefer writing the short stuff. It's quicker and pays better than novel writing, unless you get lucky and hit the big time.

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    1. Lynne, perhaps I should clarify! For quite a while, I too wrote as a job, earning roughly the same as I did for my part-time day job. Thank you for explaining about the colons. I had no idea they were outlawed. What a pity. Back to novels - yes. They do involve long painful waiting, which I never quite get used to!

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    2. Same here, Frances and Lynne - it's my job (one I love mind you!). I didn't know that about the colons and semi-colons! xx

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    3. You see them occasionally but a - is used more often now and magazines like shorter sentences, don't they? I heard that colons and semi-colons are no longer being taught in schools. I didn't like them because of the name. Colon was in human biology and in English.

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    4. They are teaching it in schools, Lynne - funnily enough Lachlan is sitting next to me right now doing revision for his SATs and we were talking about colons and semi-colons just a few minutes ago :-) xx

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    5. Nothing really replaces a semi-colon, does it? You either have long, rambling sentences, or short abrupt ones. A real shame if they die out.

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  3. This was really interesting to read,Lynne, as recently I've been worrying that after nearly 200 sales,story ideas haven't been coming to me as easily as they once did. I sometimes feel as though I've written everything there is to write. Instead of articles, my natural break (although I do still write stories) has been to write a novel. It's helped by taking the pressure off. I used to write regularly for Tab FF but stopped when found I couldn't do it all. A couple of months ago, I decided to send one again and this week, to my delight, had an acceptance. I think this means we will be magazine sisters... hurray!

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    1. It would be nice to be in the same issue. You are doing well without stories. Congrats on getting Eve White as your agent. I used to have an agent and was delighted when they took me on as they had writers like H E Bates and DH Lawrence on their list. Then I realised everyone except me was dead and they didn't need to do much work because the money was coming in from the dead writers' estates.

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    2. That shouldn't have made me laugh but it did! Luckily all Eve's writers are very much alive ๐Ÿ˜Š

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  4. I know exactly what you mean about the bragging, Lynne!

    I love what Eileen said about the fallow fields - how true that is. I'm so glad you're getting the ideas again and I'm looking forward to reading your undelightful guest story :-)

    Best news of all is that your confidence is returning :-) xx

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  5. Congrats, Lynne!! You needn't worry, you've still got it and will always have it - whatever that 'got it' 'have it' means :):) oh yeah - being paid for your work. Hmmm.. I want some of the 'got it' 'have it' :):) Have a lovely week.

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    1. Thanks, Nic. You have IT but don't try to hard. Enjoy writing and stop thinking about selling then the inevitable will happen.

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  6. It's not bragging to share news of your success. Well done, and long may it continue!

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  7. Well done, Lynne. Good to hear your confidence is returning.I agree about bragging. There's a fine line between sharing good news about writing successes and bragging!

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  8. Well done, Lynne. Good to hear your confidence is returning.I agree about bragging. There's a fine line between sharing good news about writing successes and bragging!

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