I began this blog nearly two years ago with all good intentions of writing a blog about writing.
All too often I stray off the point, that’s if I ever have a point to start with. See there I go already.
Two people in this household are down with the Dreaded Lurgy and I’m not exactly feeling great. My second grandson is due any time and my daughter lives at the bottom of a steep hill where they often get snowed in. Well, only when it's snowing. Like now.
The midwife told her not to worry – if she can’t get up the hill, they will slide down to her.
So anyway, what is this post all about? Writing that’s what. I thought I’d try to end the year on a writerly note.
But I look around at other blogs and there are so many excellent ones for writers, whether they are beginners or jaded old hags like me and I wonder if there is really anything I can offer.
The honest truth is I know little about the forensics of writing – and yes I know that’s the wrong word, but as you know it spoils the flow if you spend ages trying to find the word you want, so it’ll have to do.
I know there is such a thing as voice and I know I have several, but there is only one I feel truly at home with and I wouldn’t know how to start describing it.
So here’s a bit of advice (though why you would want any advice from me I don’t know – but everyone gets presents they don’t want, so just smile and say it’s just what you always wanted and fits like a dream then pass it on to Aunty Doris next year) to end the year with and try to redeem myself as the writer of a writing blog. This is probably all stuff I’ve said before, but I’m old so if I want to repeat myself I will. So here we go.
Write what you want to write. Enjoy it.
If you want to write for a market, study it. That means buy the publication (and I'm not just talking about women's magazines here) and read it – lots of times. Don’t just flick through before tossing it aside with a disdainful snort as you declare that you could easily write rubbish like that. If you think it’s rubbish, bugger off and write something else.
Don’t refuse to buy the magazine you are trying to write for then complain when it folds because no one else is buying it either.
Don’t, for God’s sake don’t look down on your readers. I have heard people sneer and shudder as they say of the publication they write or are trying to write for, “Of course I would never read those magazines myself,” (again I'm not just talking women's magazines) and it breaks my heart. You should damn well respect your reader and it really, really sets fire to my innards when people don’t. Believe it or not, I can sometimes tell the stories that are written by people who think that they are writing beneath their own lofty aspirations.
Write what you want to write and enjoy it.
Forget what your English teacher told you. The reason you are told to say things like, “He blurted tetchily,” or “He exclaimed hotly,” or “She expostulated,” are to teach you, a child, to look for new words and use them. Well that’s my theory. English teachers aren’t there to teach you how to write for publication, but to teach you to write as creatively (as in saying “he said” in as many different ways as you can think of) as you can and as correctly as you can so that you can pass your exams. Nothing wrong with the magically unobtrusive he said she said. If you’ve written your story well your reader will know how they said it without you having to tell them.
Remember that there are exceptions to every rule. But if you’re going to break them, do it with style. If the guidelines state “We don’t need stories about weddings,” but you have a brilliant story about a wedding you think would suit them, send it in. But I stress only do that if your story is exceptional and hasn’t already been done to death (which of course you will know if you have done your research).
If you are entering a competition Read the Rules. And remember that reading the rules and sticking to them like glue is the same as following guidelines to the letter – it won’t guarantee anything, but it will give you a fighting chance.
If the guidelines state “We only consider stories of 2000 words” don’t send in one any longer or shorter than that (give or take a few words, and I mean a few, I don’t mean 100s).
Care about your characters. Care about your readers.
Don’t take rejections personally and don’t assume you’re the only person in the world getting them. Don’t get in a strop because your rejection came in the form of a standard rejection letter. If it is the norm to get a standard rejection letter that is what you will get, whether you have been writing for a month or for thirty years.
Don’t think that it will ever be easy.
And most important of all, write what you want to write and enjoy it.
Well there you are, a pathetic attempt at a post about writing/illustration of how old people tend to repeat themselves.
All that there is left for me to do is to wish you all out there in Blogland a very Merry Christmas and to thank you most warmly for coming by and visiting my blog xx.