Wednesday, 31 January 2007

A hit at last!

Found out today that one of my stories received a Highly Commended in the Jacqui Bennett Writers Bureau comp. I really, really, really needed that.

*breathes a sigh of relief*

I guess you get addicted to the high of hits and then, when you don't get one for a while, or when you just seem to be getting rejection after rejection, you start to believe that you'll never get another hit and that everything you write is shit (okay, maybe just me then!)

What's even better is that I've entered this comp three or four times and this is the first time I've got anywhere so, even though I didn't win any money and the story wasn't published on the website, it feels like a real achievement.

And, filled with renewed vigour, I've just sent the story to another comp. If it has legs let it run (oooh, that was cheesy!)

Monday, 29 January 2007

Aaaggggh!

The central heating man from British Gas just left after giving me a quote for my old 1970's back boiler to be replaced with a combi boiler. I live in the world's tiniest 1 bedroom flat.

Guess how much he quoted?

Go on...guess...

Now double that figure.

£5,260.

I've seen house makeover shows where they've installed a brand new central heating system to a 3 bedroom house with no heating system at all for less than that.

I've now been trying to get my boiler sorted for 18 months. I must have contacted at least 10 different companies now. Some don't reply to my enquiry for a quote, some come round and then never deliver promised quote, some give me massive quotes that I can't begin to afford(British Gas) and some are obviously cowboys.

To make matters worse when I asked an estate agent whether or not a new boiler would add value to my flat he said "No, but it would make it easier to sell." FIVE GRAND TO MAKE IT EASIER TO SELL? What? I could get the bloody House Doctor in for less than that. In the meantime I'm sitting here hoping I'm not poisoning myself with Carbon Monoxide.

This absolutely, totally sucks.

AND

I only got 8 points in Eurofiction which means my ranking has slipped to something like 16th.

Today is not a good day.

Tuesday, 23 January 2007

Eurofiction Task B2

Gawd - can my titles be any more boring?

Anyway, I got 19 points for my last Eurofiction entry which has boosted me up to position # 11 (out of 48) in the rankings. Woo-hoo! My aim is to finish this comp in the top 10 and only 3 more tasks to go (one of which I sent in yesterday). Of course this will probably be the week when I score a measley 3 or 7 again and my position will slump but I can but hope (previous scores, for the first seven tasks were: 27, 3, 3, 7, 21, 18, 19).

In other news I sent off one of my stories to a publisher who'd issues a call for crime stories. I got a lovely reply almost immediately saying how refreshing it was to receive submissions from someone who could write (validation - yay!) but that one of the stories was too poetic and the other was close but in the 1st person (he preferred 3rd) and a little too gritty for his audience so could I re-write it in the 3rd person and make it less gritty. Why of course! It's back with him now and he said he'd look at it by the end of next week. I still think it's a little too gritty for his target audience (60+) but I'll cross my fingers anyway (and live off the 'you can write' comment for a bit longer!)

What else? Oh - have sent off a few submissions. My submission rate currently stands at 15 for this month (which is pretty good for me). Most of them are CiN flashes and stories I wrote for Eurofiction (see, see, it did do me some good) so, again, fingers crossed some of them 'hit' because I haven't had a hit since November.

I have to say my writing hasn't been too 'literary' recently but I'm trying not to let that bother me. If people like my more commercial (womag) writing what's the problem there? Huh? Huh?

Saturday, 6 January 2007

Mean Reds

So, I finished the story for the writing competition (writing to a very tight deadline) and submitted it my writing group for critique. It got slated (as, deep down, I knew it would). Read another story, by another writer, on the same theme (and obviously for the same comp) and it was brilliant, so-so much better than mine and so much more literary. Felt like shit.

In a slump now. Feel crap about my writing. Crap about my achievements in 2006 and, more than anything else, really frustrated with myself. I get what I think is a literary story in my head and it just comes out wrong. It's thin, the characters are undeveloped, I write to the plot, I use uninspired language or I muddle the themes. I know I can write literary fiction (as proven by the flashes I wrote for CiN) so why can't I write a full story? Why do they always fail?

The other night I started writing a short story on the train home from work. I got a first line and then the narrator's voice and I wrote and I wrote until, 1,000 words later, I was at my station and had to stop. I kept thinking about the story all night and had to get up at 2.30am to get my notebook and continue it (finished at 4.30am). Was feeling really quite positive about it. Now, in the light of my other story being slated, I feel shit and unsure.

Gah! This is horrible. I need a confidence boost. Fast

Tuesday, 2 January 2007

Eurofiction B1 Result

18 points. Not bad considering I wrote the entry at the very last minute. Haven't received the one line feedback from the judges yet, but hope it might reveal what I need to do to make the story better. To be honest I think it's one of those stories I need to put away in a drawer for a bit and re-visit at a later date so I can review it with a fresh eye (off the top of my head I think it may suffer from being a bit 'telly' at the moment). It's not a great story, as is, but I think there's potential there.

Currently standing in the Eurofiction leader board: 13th out of 48.

There's no chance of getting up to the top but I'd like to finish in the top 10. I need to pull my socks up and get writing some good stuff for the last 4 stories. I've already got an idea for task B2 (which is a nice change after having no idea for the last one until the very last minute) so I'm going to cogitate on it for a bit and build up the characters in my head until the story is aching to be written.

There's also a comp I need to start thinking about. The closing date is 15th January so I haven't got much time to come up with an idea and get writing but, hey, I seem to thrive on pressure so I'll give it a go.