I saw on Twitter where someone asked what it was like to be a writer and someone replied that they would ring every night at two a.m. to tell her how crap she was. It was funny if close to the bone. Because angst and self-doubt are ever-present.
But so is the flip side – rejection. It’s your classic chicken and egg.
And it’s hard. Even when you’re told it’s a numbers game OR it’s subjective OR maybe the journal you submitted to just accepted another piece with a similar theme
But you suck it up and you keep submitting. Two weeks ago a flash piece I submitted somewhere was rejected. I changed the title and sent it out again and it was accepted for publication within hours. But yes, I did go eat worms first.
This morning a different journal rejected another flash but in the nicest possible way, with an invitation to submit again. Killing me softly. Still, I sucked it up, did a quick edit and sent it back out, this time to three journals. It’s a numbers game, right?
Now, where are those worms?
It’s been too long but I’ve been obsessed with flash fiction. Writing it, reading it, judging it.
In May, I was lucky enough to participate in a two week long online Fast Flash course with the wonderful Kathy Fish. It was intense and a lot of work but I produced some writing that I’m really proud of and it was a joy to work with and get to know the other writers on the course. We’ve decided to carry on sharing work despite the course having ended and I’m hopeful this venture will be as productive and supportive as Kathy’s course was.
I’ve been busily submitting flash to various publications and am pleased that Spelk Fiction will be publishing one of my stories in the next few weeks. I’ll let you know when it’s up on their website. And I’m thrilled that one of the pieces I did in Fast Flash was picked up only yesterday and will be out in an e-book sometime this summer. More on that one later.
The flash community on Twitter is wonderful. Two weeks ago I submitted to Microcosms for the first time after seeing a Twitter friend tweet about it. I was thrilled to be chosen the winner with my flash fiction entitled I Was A Teenage River Nymph. It begins like this: “The sisterhood is a myth. Any nymph will tell you that.” You can read the rest of it here, but you’ll need to scroll down until you find it under “Judge’s Pick.”
And because my story was the judge’s pick it meant I was offered the opportunity to judge the following week. It was a good warm up for my big judging gig later this summer, and I find you learn so much about writing by reading and evaluating other people’s work.
But as much as I’m loving the flash, my second novel is sulking in the corner, wondering why I’ve abandoned it. It’s time for a return to long form with draft two.
And what’s new with you?
I’ve been negligent (spoken like an ex-lawyer) in posting because we were away on holiday for a few weeks, about which more later. But I’m excited to share that I’m one of the judges for the flash fiction category of the 2017 Hysteria Writing Competition. It’s a wonderful opportunity and I’m truly grateful. I know I will learn so much reading the entries and I’m excited to work with the other flash fiction judges who include some pretty amazing writers I follow on Twitter.
If you’ve never written flash fiction, Alex Reece Abbott (Writer In Residence for the competition) has collated some excellent writing tips from flashmasters here.
I was a runner-up in the 2015 Hysteria flash fiction category with a piece called Reunion (later published in the Hysteria 4 anthology). The Hysteria competition is for women from all over the world. The judging is blind and the competition features flash fiction, poetry, and short story categories. There are low entry fees, cash prizes for the winners, and publication in the anthology for winners and runners-up. So why not give it a go? But don’t worry; if you don’t enter, I won’t judge you. (sorry I couldn’t resist)
Last night we took the train to London to see the David Hockney exhibition at Tate Britain. Thirteen rooms of Hockney artwork spanning six decades. It was wonderful. I didn’t like all of the pieces on display but I loved lots of them, including his double portraits and his overlapping Polaroids. Photography was not permitted, but I found this short video online which gives a taster:
Our tour ended in the gift shop. Well, don’t they always? But for once, I didn’t mind.
I can’t draw, but as a primary school teacher I used to create art with my young students. However untalented I was, my finished product didn’t look too bad when displayed alongside those of my eight year old charges.
Several years ago I wrote a short story about a guy who was kicked out of art school, supposedly because he was untalented. In the story, he goes on to seek revenge on one of his teachers.
I’m delighted to announce that the story has just been published in the Spring 2017 edition of Still Point Arts Quarterly. The magazine is a perfect home for my story with its focus on “arts, artists and artistry.” Each issue features gorgeous original art work as well as features, fiction and some poetry.
You can preview the Spring edition, including its gorgeous cover, here. And you can purchase a copy, print or digital, here.
Now, go, make some art.
Logan Mountstuart, protagonist in Any Human Heart by William Boyd, is a writer who had this to say of a chance meeting with a fellow writer:
He inspired me. I’m always inspired after meeting another writer. And I realise we have our own secret brotherhood, even if it just comes down to sympathising with others’ moans and complaints.
That struck a chord with me because I too have my own secret sisterhood of writers who sympathise with my moans and complaints. And hearing it (I’m listening to Any Human Heart on audio) galvanised me to attend a recent Loose Muse evening in Winchester. These evenings, organised by poet Sue Wrinch, feature guest authors and an open mic session.
I hadn’t attended for awhile because of the solo drive in the dark to Winchester. But as I rediscovered last Monday, it’s worth the drive. I had the pleasure of hearing poet Jill Abrams read a selection of her poems,including the incredibly moving My Girl, which you can read here. Then novelist Claire Fuller read from her latest novel, Swimming Lessons.
Interspersed with these were readings by those brave enough for the open mic. We heard mostly poems, some memoir and a bit of fiction. And like Logan Mountstuart, I was inspired by my fellow writers. So much so that I’m going to brave the open mic next time. Eeep!
So tell me, what inspires you?
It’s getting so I’m afraid to hear the morning news. Is it me or was January 2017 particularly grim? But it’s the first day of a shiny new month. It’s past noon and I haven’t heard any bad news yet. Maybe because I haven’t turned on the radio? Here’s what’s helping me cope:
Audiobooks – I finished On Beauty by Zadie Smith last week. It was a joy. Yesterday I started Any Human Heart by William Boyd. So far, so fantastic.
Books – I’m about a third into Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple. It feels like ages since I’ve read such a zingy, humourous book. I highly recommend it.
My Library Card – which enabled me to get On Beauty, Any Human Heart and Today Will Be Different.
Prizes – Who doesn’t like winning a random prize? I won a guide to small and independent publishers (book and magazine) from Mslexia Magazine last week. A quick flick through it has inspired me to get submitting again.
Publication – I’m thrilled to already have two short stories accepted for publication in 2017, one will be out later this month, the other in April. (more details soon.)
What gets you through? Tell me something good. Please.