Let me start by saying that I spent most of 2011 and 2012 being ill.
In late 2012, and early 2013, two things happened that helped me move on from that. One was my attendance at BristolCon, and the other, was taking up T’ai Chi.
Having improved my health and tweaked my ambition and self-belief, 2013 was mine to conquer.
Well, it is never quite like that, but what did happen was I went for it. I took a chance and went from talking about writing, to actually doing it.
So, shackles off, my first attempt at writing a story in over a decade was a short ‘steampunk’ story. I sent this off with little or no expectations. The success for me, was getting an idea turned into a story. The deadline was midnight, 16th June 2013. At 11:59 I clicked send.
It was with huge excitement, and a hell of a lot of disbelief, I learnt that my story had been accepted. The Editors, Roz and Joanne, walked me through a fair few re-writes, but in the end ‘Lord Craddock – Ascension’ was included in the Airship Shape and Bristol Fashion Anthology. Due to be released this month or next, hopefully!
Riding on a crest of joy, I decided I needed to find something, or someone nearby, that could help me develop my writing further, and give me the feedback I needed. It was in July that I went to the Penzance LitFest. I noted on the programme that there was a Writer’s Cafe. As always I was a little nervous about attending alone, and asked my friend Pete if he wanted to go, thinking he could walk into the room first. As it was, he and another friend Seb went, and I was able to stand quietly behind them both.
I started attending the cafe one afternoon a fortnight. We talked about writing, we did interesting exercises to stretch our writing muscles. Before I knew it, I was in a ‘Critiquing Group’, sharing stories and getting feedback. Thank you Inez and Victoria for being so patient with a novice.
In October I returned to BritolCon, this time listening intently to the speakers. It was different for me. I made notes, trying to take on board all the advice I could. I thought carefully about what was said, what I could use in my own writing and again noted that the people there, were the friendliest bunch I’d ever met.
Back to Penzance, and back to the Writer’s Cafe, where a gentleman called Francis told me all about Nanowrimo. Inspired, I signed up to try and write a novel in a month.
By the end of November I had 50,000 words of a novel, which I hope one day to finish and polish. In that time I also wrote a small piece of flash fiction for the Writer’s Cafe Anonymous Christmas Competition.
And so the year ended on another writing high, as my flash fiction was voted by my fellow writer’s as the winning story.
I feel very lucky that people seem to like what I write. I’m hoping that 2014 can be just as successful, if not more. To that end, I’ve already joined some other writer’s and committed to try and write and submit one short story a month throughout the year.
Of course, during 2013 I also tried my hand at blogging – it has been a hit and miss affair. It is on my must try harder list!
Good Luck to you all, no matter what it is that you are trying to achieve. Thanks for the support.. Here’s hoping the year of the Horse is a good one!
And so, I leave you with my winning bit of flash fiction. It had a 300 word limit and it is a hard skill to contain a story, with a start, middle and end, in that amount of words. I’m not happy with it. I see all the faults, all the things I would like to change but well, others liked it, so I will resist the urge to re-write it. I post it here, in it’s original, winning, form…
Lost & Found
“Welcome,” cried Joy, “one and all, to the Writer’s Cafe Christmas meeting!”
“The theme is ‘Fact or Fiction’. A tale, that may be about you or may be entirely made up. It is for others to guess. Who’s first?”
A grey haired lady, called Claire, shot her hand up. “Me! Then it’s over with.”
“When I was young, I met a boy, whom I loved deeply. Our families disliked one another bitterly. It was definitely, not approved of.”
Certain she had their attention, she continued, “He was duly shipped off to Canada. It broke my heart. I sold all I had, and sailed after him.”
A voice mumbled, “It’s a bit clichéd.”
“I arrived, a couple of months after him. There, I discovered that he had bought a ticket to sail back home.”
She gathered herself. “That ship sank. Distraught does not begin to tell you how I felt. In fact it was only last year, I felt able to live in Penzance again. And that is how I came to be the spinster sat here before you.”
A ripple of polite applause followed. Murmurs of, ‘it sounds a bit far-fetched’, and, ‘she’s a good actress’ were heard.
“Fact or Fiction?” Teresa asked.
From the corner of the room a gentleman spoke, “I’d like to say, that that story is entirely true, apart from one aspect.”
The gentleman stood to speak. He too was greying, and he leant on a walking stick. “The part you got wrong is that although he did buy the ticket, he missed that boat. He caught the next one, where he waited many years for this moment. The moment, he might find his true love again.”
A tearful Bill stood up and proclaimed, “Merry Christmas! Somebody get the mistletoe, quick!”