Friday, 22 September 2006

Off on my travels!

I'm off to Nepal tomorrow. I've never been 'travelling' and I've never visited Asia so I'm very excited and also a bit nervous. What will it be like? Will it be baking hot? Will it be really crowded and overwhelming? Will it be dusty? Dirty? Tiring? Beautiful? Awe-inspiring? Calming? Life changing?

I guess I'll have to get on that plane at 11am tomorrow and find out!

My friend L, who has been over the since April, has arranged our itinerary and includes 3 night and 4 days at a national park where we'll get to ride elephants, visit the breeding programme, walk through the jungle and go canoeing. We're also going trekking for 3 days, white-water rafting, going to visit temples, national monuments as well as a few shopping trips to buy silver and local goods. God, just typing it all out is making me feel even more excited!

I'm still not 100% over the virus I had recently so that's a bit worrying. I've got an on/off headache and my glands are up but I'm hoping that with paracetamol, orange juice and plenty of water I'll shake it off. The last thing I want is to be ill abroad (even tho' I do have insurance).

I haven't planned to do any short story or flash writing while I'm over there but I'm sure my notebook will be filled with sights, sounds and experiences. There are, apparently, internet cafes in Kathmandu so I'll log on to check my email when I can and visit my 2 online writing groups and see what they're up to.

Bye for now.

Thursday, 21 September 2006

Susurrus Hit!

Received an email last night telling me that my story "Jin and the Toothpaste" has been accepted by Susurrus magazine and will be published in their October edition. They paid me $5 for the story too (my first dollars earned from a published story).

Great news - just what I needed to cheer me up!

Tuesday, 19 September 2006

2 rejections = 2 new subs

I read on another writer's blog last night that she'd received a call saying she was shortlisted for the Guildford Book Festival comp. That means my two stories didn't place. I was disappointed for about a second (the five shortlisted stories on that comp are read out on the radio and then the winner is voted for by the listeners) but then thought "Okay, plan B...send them out somewhere else."

Both of the stories have a distinct 'womag' feel so I've sent them off to two women's magazines. 'Womag' stories get short shrift in a lot of writing circles but I think that's unfair. It's snobbery. Literary stories (and novels) aren't for everyone. I heard yesterday that the romance genre, for example, is massively popular and dominates the publishing market. Other people like reading horror, sci fi or thrillers. LOTS of people like reading 'womag' fiction - if they didn't why would so many of the women's magazines publish it? We can't force the world to read literary fiction just because it is deemed 'superior' by some.

Why pigeon-hole yourself to be one kind of writer? I write when inspiration takes me and what comes out, comes out whether that be a horror story, a psychological thriller, a literary piece or a 'womag' story. I'm equally proud of all them - and even more so when a judge or an editor says they like it so much they want to publish it.

I now have 3 stories 'out there' with women's magazines. Fingers crossed one of them hits (and the money would be nice too!)

Monday, 18 September 2006

Where did the words come from?

I thought this month would be a crap one, words-wise, because I'm only writing until 23rd Septemeber when I go to Nepal for a 3 week trekking/exploring/white-water-rafting/culture-filled holiday, but it's not (so far!). I've written over 5,000 words so far this month including 2 flashes and a story. I've also noted down a few story ideas in my notebook (but those don't count towards the word count). It's strange how you can be so blocked and empty and all of a sudden the words and ideas start to flow again.

Yesterday I noted down 3 story ideas that were prompted by something I'd read or watched on TV that evening. Two aren't particularly ingenious, but one definitely has some potential so I'll stew on it for a while (or rather, I need to stew on the main character because, according to AK, plotting BEFORE you write the story is a bad thing. It's the character that decides how the action in a story will progess, not the author).

My current story in primaries is getting mixed reviews (as I thought it might). That sounds bad but actually it's good because it means I can identify when I've written a duff story and when I've written and half-way decent one (those are few and far between).

I've got a lot on my plate, writing-wise, for the rest of the year. I'm signed up for Slingink's 'Eurofiction' which starts in October and continues for twenty weeks, ten stories in all. The first has to be in two days after I get back from Nepal so hopefully I'll find an internet cafe while I'm over there and pick up the prompts. In an idea world I'll write my story on the plane on the way back. In reality I'm likely to write it an hour before the deadline!

The other thing I've signed up for is AK's 'Children in Need' writeathon on 16th/17th November. I did it last year and wrote 15 stories in 27 hours (one of which made it into the anthology and two others won prizes in comps this year). This year I aim to write more than 15 stories and, ideally, raise more than the £200 I raised last year (the group total was over £14,000 including sales of the anthology).

I'm not sure if anyone is reading this blog but if you are, and if you fancy finding out more about the writeathon please leave me a message.

Only 4 more days until I leave for Nepal. I've got a couple of comp entries to do before then so I'm unlikely to get any more words down - but I might, you never know.

Oh! One more bit of news - one of my stories has been shortlisted for the Mere Literary Festival. It made the 24 (from 274) stories that were forwarded to the judge for final judging. Result!

Sunday, 10 September 2006

A slow start to September

Two rejections early on this month - no joy in the Writer's Bureau or the Writespace comps. Tweaked the WB story and it's ready to be sent on to another comp and have sent the WS story (as is) to an online flash site. Fingers crossed one of them 'hits'.

I haven't written much this month. I recently found out that a friend of mine from school died suddenly and unexpectedly. The news has completely shaken me and has left me out of sorts. Just when you think you're starting to make sense of the world, news like this scrambles everything (including my brain). It's hard to write anything and everything I have written so far this month was about my friend. Guilt, disbelief, sorrow, shock - I've tried to express myself but the words jumble and merge. They are senseless, much like her death.

I wrote a flash today - not about death or loss. It was something and nothing, but at least I wrote.

I feel like I need to write something - a story in memorandum to my friend - but the words won't come and I wish, wish, wish I was a better writer. I wish I could do justice to her memory, to her, to our relationship. I know it's too soon to write but these feelings are burning inside me and need to get out.