March 30th, 2015
Carole Taylor’s a stubborn lass. Even back at school she told everyone that, one day, she was going to write a book. Now, granted, she did get a bit side-tracked raising a family (and with her daughter the deputy head of a London primary school, son a departmental leader in an international bank, I think we can assume she put a reasonable amount of effort into that.) More recently, there’s been a major health scare with her heart. And now, as well as working part time for a TV production company, her first grandchild’s appeared on the scene … Nonetheless, she never did give up on that book thing and, in the end, didn’t just write one, but five. They’re not only written either, she’s had them all published as ebooks by an American online publisher. So, if any of you out there were thinking it was too late to get started on a writing career – read on. Read the rest of this entry »
March 27th, 2015
As usual, thanks to Louise for last Friday’s post. I know that she’s probably luckier than most of us when it comes to being in a position to soak up inspiration. I somehow imagine that being aboard a boat moored near Rome must be so much more conducive to writing than living in rainy Rochdale (sorry, Rochdale, no offence intended).
But I suspect I might be wrong. It’s more about the way you look at life and your surroundings than where you actually live. And this was the point that Louise got across so well. Even a trip to the laundrette or Tescos can provide inspiration if you keep your mind open and receptive at all times.
And talking about a bit of inspiration that you might not have considered as a writer, Prima magazine has a great section online entitled All About You that includes a Book Club. You can listen to Jane Green’s advice on getting your book published; Lucy Diamond talking about how to start writing your first novel and then finding a publisher; Karen Swan discussing the process of writing a novel and Joanna Reed offers tips that any aspiring author will find helpful. Read the rest of this entry »
March 23rd, 2015
Y’know, it’s a splendid job, blogging for the Writers Bureau. As well as the completely self indulgent necessity to write about writing, it’s introduced me to loads of new stuff. Some of my favourite blogs: Writers In The Storm; Grammarphobia; Grammarly, the works of great writers like Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o and Jhumpa Lahiri, not forgetting Leonard Lopate’s fabulous WNYC talk show … all brilliant. And now, there’s another one for the list: Commonwealth Writers. Read the rest of this entry »
March 20th, 2015
One of the questions I get asked most frequently when I tell people I’m a writer is where do I get my ideas from. It’s not an easy answer to give because in truth, my ideas come from everywhere. Almost anything can spark an idea or inspire a burst of creativity. The trick is to see the potential in these ideas and nurture them into an article or a story.
I’m lucky to live on a boat just outside of Rome, which provides me with endless inspiration to write and create. I’m drawn to the sea and working comfortably in the cabin as I float around really suits my style. I love feeling all the elements on the boat. My work in progress is a young adult novel set under the ocean. When there’s a violent storm and the boat is surging in the marina, I take the opportunity to imagine what it must feel like for my characters below the surface. Read the rest of this entry »
March 16th, 2015
Right, get your typing fingers ready. The Royal Society Of Literature has just announced its seventeenth V. S. Pritchett Memorial Prize for the best unpublished short story of the year. This is a competition open to residents of all Commonwealth countries, it’s for stories of 2,000 – 4,000 words, there’s a £5.00 entrance fee and, as well as publication in Prospect online and the RSL Review, the winner gets a very tasty £1,000. The deadline is 22 June, and with all the talent I know is out there, I’m sure one of you folks must be in with a chance.
I’d have a go myself but, as some of you may remember, I had a bad experience with a short story last year and it’s quite taken the wind out of my sails. I tried working something up for a Writing Magazine ‘adult fairy story’ competition, but ended up missing the deadline with a story that was far too long and which, even now, isn’t in any fit state to show an editor.
So where did I go wrong? Well, right at the start, I didn’t think – just launched into an idea without any proper planning. If I’d taken a couple of days to mull things over, it all could have been very different. In fact, I really should have back-pedaled further than that. Even before thinking things through, what I should have done is gone and found some advice on how to write for competitions. “Do-oh!” How thick can you be, ‘ey? Here’s me blogging for the Writers Bureau, and it didn’t even enter my head to see what our own tutors have to say about it.
Ah well … I’ve had a look now. And do you know what I found? A cracking article by Simon Whaley called Writing Competitions – A Judge Reveals All. It’s been sitting there in the back copies of E-Zee Writer since April 2009 and, honestly, it’s like a little potted masterclass. As well as loads of great tips on how to approach competitions, it explains how to timetable your work over three months to be sure you’re ready and properly edited in good time. If only I’d read it last year … I could be counting my winnings now.
So look, if you fancy having a go at the Royal Society’s short story prize, there’s loads of time to get something together. But don’t make the same mistakes I did. Do yourself a favour and read Simon’s article first, it’ll give you a great head start.
Keep on writing!