Tag Archives: publish

The Day Job…

The day job…

A wise writer once said to me that it’s not so much the pram in the hall that’s the impediment to a writing career, but the bills on the door-mat. Money worries are the bane of creativity. And unless independently wealthy, the emerging writer will have to make a living while waiting for that book/film deal (and probably for a while after that fact too). Writers need to work; the question is what kind of jobs are out there?

Many will consider other (more lucrative) forms of writing to bring home the bucks. Journalism is an obvious  choice and is still, probably, the most common second career for many creative writers. Moreover, a journalistic background provides marvelous training re editing and brevity of approach. Copy-writing, particularly website copy, is also a popular income booster for writer but both copy-writing and journalism are less satisfying forms of writing for the creative writer and spending all day writing on the day job can make it difficult to come home and do the same at night.

Teaching English and/or creative writing is another common earner for writers. My TEFL training and experience has given me a sound grip of grammar and the intricacies of the English language – all of which is of great practical use to a writer. A TEFL teacher also (usually) travels and such experiences can feed into your work. Teaching creative writing allows you to deconstruct the tools of creative writing, which may benefit your own writing. However, you usually need a track record of publication before you begin to look for work in this area.

It is not uncommon for writers to work a mundane job such as on a factory line or as a manual laborer. Such tasks sit quite well with a writing career as they give the writer time to think, to let ideas bubble and boil ready to write down after the shift has finished. Also, with a job so utterly removed from writing, you will be fresh and eager to sit at your laptop of an evening. The downside of any brain numbing, repetitive work is that it has no status. This fact should not be important but it is because writers are human, so for a writer to stay in a lowly job, s/he needs determination, focus and confidence in their reason for doing this type of work.

Writers, of course, come from all walks of life and all career backgrounds. For those of you who may be considering giving up your job to write full time, you need to remember that you’ll (most likely) still need to make a living. Maybe the job you have is not glamorous or interesting, but these are often the best complementary jobs for writing. So, if you really want to be a writer, the greatest sacrifice you make may be NOT giving up the day job –  but staying with it.

Advertisements

New Year Ships’ Log

It’s 2014 – a year that still sounds to me like the title of a Sci-Fi movie. And I’m hoping the spaceships I encounter over the next twelve months will be of the friendly variety .Veterans of this blog will know that when I refer to ‘ships’ I’m talking about all the texts/scripts which I’ve sent out on spec re publication, staging or broadcast etc… I have always liked the idea of my work as ‘ships’ as it somewhat relieves me of responsibility – once launched, they are out there and I can only hope they return to port in some form, preferably laden with a win or publication.

Last year I sent out a total of 59 ships. Some 17 returned to port, 39 never made it. Rejections/disappointments/ non-runs/PFOs are part and parcel with the writer’s lot and learning how to handle them is one of the most important (and difficult) lessons a novice writer faces.

I when I was 22, I wrote seven short stories. They were bad, really pretentious, decorated with adjectives and adverbs and with no theme or character development or point to any of them at all but I thought they were pure genius. I sent them off to every magazine I could find in the bookstore. And waited. And waited. And waited… until I became convinced that they had all been lost in the post. It was the only explanation, surely, as any editor would recognize my genius immediately, no? A couple of months later, I received a single rejection letter. And the truth dawned. No one else even bothered replying. It was 100% rejection. I was floored. I burned the stories I was working on and I didn’t send anything else off for another ten years.

That was very stupid of me. I should have brushed myself off and tried again. I would be in a much better position and be a better writer now if I had. But I wasn’t strong or  mature enough to know that then. Ah, well. During my first year on my MA at UEA  (2009), I sent out another batch of stories. I’d had a few shorts published at this stage and was confident that I’d now win every competition going and it would pay my MA tuition. And, again I got nowhere. I was pretty down but I recalled how I’d let rejection defeat me before and vowed it wouldn’t happen again. I sent out more, and then more and after six months, I had bagged the Mary and Ted O’Regan Award, and then the Annaghmakerrig award and the Molly Keane Award, the HISSAC, the Sussex Playwrights’, the Meridian, the Escalator Award. I’ve now got two broadcast radio plays under my belt (and am working on a third)  as well as signing with an agent and my novel is currently on submission to publishers. My  short stories have been published in seven anthologies/literary publications. I’ve had staged readings of my work in Norfolk, Brighton and Cornwall. I’ve served as writer in residence on the Aran Islands, lead workshops in creative writing in Ireland and the UK and teach writing for a living. These are all ships that came home to mama over the past five years but believe me, many had to sink before I saw the slightest hint of success.

Don’t give up – look at how you can improve your rejected story/script/novel/play and send it out again. Remember, much depends on what the magazine or the competition judge is looking for at that particular time, it may not be a comment on your writing skills. It’s all about not giving up.

The 2013 stats:

Ships sent out: 56

Wins/acceptance/short-listings/publications:17

Ships sunk: 39

The 2014 stats thus far:

Awaiting news on 13 ships launched

Wins/acceptance/short-listings/publications: 1

Ships sunk: 3


Welcome 2012 And Resolution Writing Course

Revellers bring in the New Year, Hungarian style

Here in Budapest, tradition states one must eat a bowl of lentil soup on New Year’s Eve/Day to attract luck and fortune in the year to come. Last year, my friend Joska invited me to lunch on Jan 1st. He’d cooked a barrel load of the stuff and it was so cold outside we rather overdosed on the bean. Lo and behold, 2011 turned out to be a year of great fortune re my writing. I won three awards, was shortlisted for even more, had quite a few shorts published. Moreover, I set up this website and my online writing course – both of which I’m enjoying immensely and I’ve resolved to make the course my focus for the coming year.

My course, ‘Creative Writing: A Toolbox’ is a six week online one-on-one creative writing introduction. With it, I aim to help you realize your dreams of writing creatively, or improve the practice of those already writing. The course regards the tools of the craft and provides online support for your work via feedback and guidance in relation to editing, submission and markets. Each course is adapted to suit the individual needs of the specific student. There is also the option of retaining my services as a mentor/critic/coach after the course ends.

Creative Writing: A Toolbox’ is supported by written material, exercise, assignments and a weekly 45 minute one-on-one online tutorial to guide the student through the six step, six week writing course. This tutorial is usually given via Skype, though some students prefer to use email alone – that is for the student to decide.  Over the six sessions, the student is introduced to the know-how, ‘tricks’ and skills of the writer and can work on their own project, such as a short story or part of a novel – whilst, receiving online coaching, instruction, feedback and guidance from Sue.

Throughout the course,  students will receive a full professional critique of their work from Sue.

All inclusive price: €150 (introductory offer)

For more information, please contact me on : bpapartment at gmail dot com

In the meantime, if you’d like to make your own Hungarian lentil soup check here: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/lentil-soup-2/

Joska eating lentil soup on New Year's Day

Wishing you all the best for 2012 – may your ships come in with your dreams onboard.

Sue xo


The Lenin of the Sexual Revolution

An article I submitted this month to Live Encounters, on Maurice Girodias, the “Lenin of the sexual revolution” –  a Paris based publisher who dared to first publish many of the mid-late 20th century classics.

http://liveencounters.net/?p=454


The Shipping News

'The Last of the Shower' shortlisted for the HISSAC

 

 

Couldn’t resist the temptation to bring some good news to my new website…

Just received this email from HISSAC about my story:

‘The Last of the Shower’ has made it to the shortlist…
The Final Judges’ meeting is on Sunday afternoon, when the winner will be decided.
Yay! So, a ship may be coming back to port after all. Perhaps this new website is bringing me luck. Third time lucky with a shortlisted story this week perhaps?
In fact, I’m working on a piece right now about a woman who’s looking for third time round luck. Damn, she doesn’t get it though… hmmm

Sheila-na-Gig Delivers

And a ship comes home….

 

A Sheila-na-Gig

Just received a cheque for twenty pounds sterling from ‘New Writer Magazine’ who have published my story ‘Sheila-na-Gig’ in their Autumn edition. Okay, so I’m not jacking in the prison job just yet but twenty quid in writing payment is like two grand in normal people’s money. Now, what to blow it on… All suggestions gratefully received.


All Work and No Play…

 

Humanity according to Sue

Writers worth their ink need to be making some point with their story. By that, I mean your tale ought not be solely just a boy-meets-loses-regains-girl trip. Beneath your storyline, there should be something else going on, a deeper message, your comment on how humanity works, or doesn’t.

It is a writer’s (or artist’s) job to present the human condition as they interpret it. I’m sorry if that comes over all heavy and scary. It isn’t meant to, I’m simply suggesting that once you’ve written your story, or even just have an idea for one, you should sit back and consider what it could be saying on a larger, universal scale.

A good way to understand this concept is to consider Aesop’s Fables. Each one is a tale that could be enjoyed on a superficial level by a child, yet there is a deeper meaning, or moral, which endeavors to teach the child some universal truth about life, ie being slow yet determined is often better than being hasty and fickle (Tortoise and the Hare).

A good place to seek inspiration is a list of proverbs. A proverb is usually a metaphor and encapsulates in simple terms, a lesson from the common experience of humanity. Here’s an exercise that might get you going: sit down and have a think about the specific meaning of the following and then go freewrite a story illustrating this philosophy.

Graveyards are full of indispensable people.

You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.

A little learning is a dangerous thing.

The belly has no ears.

Trees don’t grow to the sky.

A dumb priest never got a parish.

The only free cheese is in the mousetrap.

Eaten bread is soon forgotten.

The squeaky door gets the oil. (Thanks to Sally Ann for this one!)


Stories from the 11th Dimension?

I’m told many writers feel ideas are sometimes fed to them from “somewhere else”. That “somewhere else” is a very vague concept and means different things to different scribes. Nonetheless, writers who hold such beliefs say it is very important to allow your mind to be open to receiving these ideas – wherever they come from.

Certainly, I have had moments when I felt plugged into a conduit, receiving stories, characters and ideas. This is a rare enough event – I can never conjure it but if I write often it’ll roll around every now and again. And when they do, they are really magical moments when stories and characters come swimming to me, all done-up, pre-packaged and ready to go.

So who knows… one thing’s for sure, if you keep on working those brain-gym exercises, freewrites and the spidergrams – you’ll get something of the ‘writing rapture’ soon enough. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this….?

A friend sent me this Elizabeth Gilbert TED talk in which she “muses” on this topic. I think it’s must view for all creative types.


Fame and Glory on the Wings of a Moth

Got word that my Molly Keane Prize story ‘Snailsock’ is to be published in The Moth Magazine – in either their Autumn or Winter edition. And The New Writer Magazine is using ‘Sheila-na-Gig’ as their lead story in their January 2012 edition… so much fame and glory in one week… bet my phone is being hacked as I type!

http://www.themothmagazine.com​