I’ll give a little toot on my trumpet if I may.
I submitted six stories over the last couple of months, three each to Woman’s Weekly and The People’s Friend; five were accepted, of which two have now been published; I’ve been asked to tweak the end of the sixth one.
Usually when I start a story I have a destination for it in mind, and that works – some of the time. An exact science this writing lark ain’t.
The two published stories were in Woman’s Weekly, one a couple of weeks ago and one this (issue dated 29 September 2015).
Both of them were inspired by prompts in my weekly creative writing class. Neither was written with the magazine in mind but with the goal of using them as competition entries.
As far as I remember the prompt for Lucky Tatties was the memories that are conjured up by taste. Maybe you called them lucky potatoes or maybe you’ve never heard of them – they were a hard flat sweetie about the size of an old penny, dusted in cinnamon and with a little plastic toy inside. You had to be careful not to swallow it.
Like my heroine, Anne, I never liked them very much.
The feedback from one competition I entered it was to chop the story off two-thirds of the way through. I didn’t want to do that; it was short enough as it was. I could tell the adjudicator didn’t like the rest of it much either, and I can see that it isn’t the easiest of stories as it flies in the face of various received wisdoms – it tells rather than shows (a deliberate decision on my part) and there is no dialogue.
Increasingly, Woman’s Weekly (in their weekly magazine and monthly fiction specials) publish stories in a variety of styles so I thought I’d nothing to lose by sending it to them. And everything to gain as it turned out.
Pittenweem did win a competition, the General Short Story competition at the Scottish Association of Writers’ conference, judged by novelist, short story writer and playwright Catherine Czerkawska. After WW accepted Lucky Tatties I thought, well, maybe there’s a chance to see Pittenweem in print there too.
I think the original prompt for the story was when we were looking at character in the class and I thought I’d have an office as the setting. (Said office is not in Pittenweem (a fishing village on the east coast of Scotland) but a postcard of it becomes a kind of talisman for my main character.)
In other writing-related news, my People's Friend serial The Ferryboat, which was published in the magazine last year is now the 'daily serial' on the PF website. Catch up with it here.
And I am delighted to be doing two more People’s Friend story-writing workshops, with fiction editor Shirley Blair, in Dundee on 8 October, and York on 22 October; and judging the Woman’s Short Story competition at the Scottish Association of Writers conference in March 2016.