All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Photos for Chandler’s Ford Today post taken by me, Allison Symes, as were the screenshots.
Hope you have had a great week. I had a wonderful time at the Association of Christian Writers Golden Jubilee weekend. Many thanks to those who came to my flash fiction workshop. It was so lovely catching up with old friends and making new ones. It’s great to be out and about again too.
Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today
Am pleased to share my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week about Travelling Workshops. I look back at the Scottish Association of Writers conference, and the more recent workshops I ran for the London Jesuit Centre and the Association of Christian Writers Golden Jubilee weekend.
I look at the point of workshops, I discuss the value of writing exercises (whether I set them or do them!), and share my thoughts on why workshops should be interactive. Hope you find the post useful preparation for your next workshop!
Hope you have had a good day. My Chandler’s Ford Today post about Travelling Workshops will be up tomorrow. See above. I then plan to resume my In Fiction series after that. Will be at the letter T for next time (17th June) so I am getting there!
It’s been a busy week since coming home from the ACW Golden Jubilee weekend but it is always a better week when you happily get a publishing contract sent off to someone you’ve worked with before on many happy occasions. Also spurs me on to try and get another one!
A big thank you for the response to my rather long post yesterday. Just sometimes you really feel the need to say something, right? And I wanted to share that my writing journey has had (and will continue to have) setbacks. The writing life is up and down and I think over time you get used to that. I’ve found it has helped me appreciate the up times far more (and to not take them for granted).
One of the joys of writing for me, whether it is published or not, is having an outlet for creativity. For many years I sought to just write for myself. I wanted to prove to myself I could write and keep on writing. It was only when, with my confidence up a bit knowing that I could write, I stared approaching publishers etc. That was a huge learning curve in itself!
This is a good indication of why I say writers always learn. You have to learn from your mistakes so you can do better (and sometimes just being alerted to what the mistake is can be a great help. I found that when someone told me about vanity publishing).
Shortly, I’ll be having the joy of returning a contract to my publisher for a short story to appear in an anthology due out later this year. It’s always a lovely thing to do but for many years, I despaired of ever being published. All I ever seemed to receive were rejections or, even more frequently, I just wouldn’t hear back. So what changed?
Firstly, I didn’t give up. Secondly, when I could get feedback on my short stories (some competitions offer this), I took it. Thirdly, I read plenty of writing advice (reputable writing magazines and websites etc) and tried to apply it. Fourthly, I gave myself much more editing time before submitting a story anywhere. All of those things put together made a huge difference.
The best tip is the last one though – write regularly and read regularly. It is the regularity that matters. You do kind of build up your writing “muscles” here. From reading, you can work out what it is about stories you love or dislike and apply those principles to your own stories. I dislike insipid heroines so am not writing any!
Yes, you do need some luck. But putting in all the work you can matters too. It is a bit like an apprenticeship here and every writer I know has had their fair share of set backs.
The positive thing about the rejections? They made me look at my stories again and sometimes I could find a way to improve them. So I did. I then resubmitted that work somewhere else and I have been published doing that. Sometimes it was a case of accepting I could do no more with this particular tale – time to write more.
And I found having a story “out there”, another one being written and rested ready for editing, and another one being drafted helped a lot. It still does. It means I always have something on the go. It pays not to pin your hopes on one story on the chance it will be rejected and that then crushes you.
Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again
It’s the end of a long week (well it will seem like an even longer one than usual after the Platinum Jubilee weekend!) and it is time for another story. My new tale on Friday Flash Fiction is Midnight Bells. See what Maggie thinks about bells and firemen here!
If you’d like to check out my latest column on flash fiction for Mom’s Favorite Reads, you can do here. It is great fun writing for the magazine (and a challenge too but writers need a challenge to keep their creativity firing on all cylinders, so to speak).
As with my blogs, I prepare material in advance and this does pay off. It means I’m not going to worry about deadlines as I know I’ve got the piece prepared. And I draft future blogs too. I inevitably use these on those occasions where I really don’t have time to write anything new. That pays too.
Great to see such wonderful comments coming in for On The Doorstep, my most recent story on Friday Flash Fiction Thanks everyone. I love inventing characters but sometimes one particularly “gets” to you. For me Mabel does that here. See what you make of her.
Fairytales with Bite – Celebrations
I loved watching the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee events recently (and I especially loved the Paddington Bear sketch – marmalade sandwich, anyone? Do look this up if you haven’t seen it – it’s good fun and quite sweet too). So all of that turned my thoughts towards celebrations.
In your fictional world, what would these celebrations be for? What food and drink would they have? What music? Can anyone take part or are only certain types allowed to celebrate? I loved the fireworks Gandalf produced in The Lord of The Rings but how would your magical world have a spectacular display like this? Would magic be used to produce it or would things be hand-made?
Is the whole of your society expected to celebrate when told to do so and what would the consequences be for those who do not take part? How do your characters celebrate when, due to their own circumstances in your stories they really don’t feel like doing so? How well can they cover up and pretend all is well?
Who would feel relief when the celebrations were over? That could range from the organisers to the security people who can now step down. So that relief can be for positive reasons rather than the obvious negative ones.
This World and Others – Commemorative Events
Commemorative events tend to be more sombre than celebrations, of course. So how does your fictional world remember important historical events? Do they actively remember to try to prevent future wars etc? Does your world have schools and how are younger members of your society educated about commemorative events, if so?
I remember being told many years ago by family what the meaning of the Remembrance Sunday/Armistice Day events was and there was no question of not watching or going to these. (My grandfathers both served in the war – one in the forces and later as an ARP Warden in London’s East End and the other in armaments in the Woolwich Arsenal – the latter was forever being bombed out).
Commemorative events are full of meaning and symbolism so how does this work in your fictional world? Can anyone pick up on the meaning of the symbols used? If anyone is excluded from taking part, who are they and why are they shut out? Do different societies in your world commemorate the same event but in vastly different ways and does this cause conflict? People don’t always like different after all.
How did the commemorative events come in to being and who was the driving force behind them? How did they persuade those in authority to stage these things?
Food for thought there I think!
Travelling Workshops https://t.co/blYNjOonK8 I look at the point of workshops for CFT this week, discuss the value of writing exercises (whether I set or do them!), and share my thoughts on why workshops should be interactive. Hope you find the post useful for your next workshop!— Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) June 10, 2022
Midnight Bells, by Allison Symes – Friday Flash Fiction https://t.co/z7DN03FPKk It’s the end of a long week (it seems longer than usual after the Platinum Jubilee!) and it is time for another tale. This one is Midnight Bells. See what Maggie thinks about bells and firemen here! pic.twitter.com/zB761axZUV— Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) June 10, 2022