a year of writing

As I said in my last post, I may not have blogged, but I have been writing quite a lot in the last eleven months. I won’t go into all the details but I’ll note a few of the main things, just for the record.

Firstly, I wrote (or rather, re-wrote) a ghost story that I first thought up as a teenager. I’ve no idea where the original copy (from back then) is, I’ve just always had – in the back of my mind – the memory of it and the idea that it was worth a second go. It took ages to write (even though it’s only about 2000 words) and I’m still not satisfied with it. I was having real difficulty with building up enough suspense; I was aiming for ‘creeping dread’ but the story kept zipping along. It also started off as a first person narrative but I changed my mind and thought it would work better in the third person… and then decided I was wrong and had to change it back. If I’m honest it’s still more a work-in-progress than an actual finished story!

I also wrote a short story for kids. Children’s literature is a genre I have always loved reading, so I was keen to approach it from a writer’s perspective too. My story has a magical/ghostly theme and I really enjoyed writing it. The story unfolds from the point-of-view of a little boy and since I’m surrounded by those (as a mother of three sociable sons!) it was something I found quite easy to do.  I’m now planning on reading it to my older sons who are aged four and six. Although I think they may be a little young, I’m quite keen to see what they think.

Another fairly big milestone (for a complete novice) was that I entered a themed short story competition in Scribble Magazine. I didn’t get anywhere in the competition but I didn’t expect to –  I was just really pleased that I’d actually followed the project through.

The process of writing these three stories taught me a lot. I realised that there’s a huge difference between having an idea in my head, and in crafting it into a story that I’m willing to show to anyone else, let alone enter into a competition. I had a clear idea of what my ghost story was, of how it would start and end – and even most of the bits in the middle – but, as I’ve said, when it came to writing it down it was so hard to get right!

And then there’s the competition story: I wrote it fairly quickly but then I spent weeks and weeks tweeking it, deciding it was all wrong, re-writing it, re-tweeking it… and then eventually, with the end-of-November-deadline fast approaching I sent it off because I had to. I probably could have fiddled with it till the end of time.

So deadlines are helpful to me. Competitions are therefore probably a useful tool and I intend to enter more. The reason I haven’t so far is… well I think I’ll write more about that next time.

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