Tag Archives: Creative Writing

Catching up on my reading, and getting rewarded

28 Mar

I restarted a new subscription to Writing Magazine about a year ago and got second place in one of the first competitions I entered with them. Read it HERE So far so good, but my reading had slipped a bit, as the magazines are crammed full of articles, stories and various other info about outlets etc.

Anyway, I was sitting at my desk today reading January’s edition, and look:

Writing Magazine Jan2017

Bizarrely I was just working on that very story this afternoon to make it fit the word count of another competition. The Scottish Art Club’s short story competition has a hefty entrance fee, but feeling more confident after seeing this.

Mothers’ Day

21 Mar

Okay, so maybe you can’t afford to send your mum on a round-the-world trip, but you could buy her a book that sends the heroine on such a journey. Even better if your mum remembers the 80s. What book would that be? I hear you say. Oh, you know, don’t you? And don’t worry, one of these days I’ll finish the next book, and give you something different to look at.

Just to guilt trip you – got my Amazon payments for last month – 3p. Really must get on with writing something new.

The Wedding Party

4 Mar

The Wedding Party

She’d been to these parties before, when a bride wants another wear out of her wedding dress. ‘It’ll be fun,’ Stacy said. ‘All the girls from the office are coming. Another chance to feel really special, eh Christine?’

It was also a chance to have a snide look at your friends’ weight gain; the not- yet-revealed pregnancies; the workmates who would have to make excuses because their dress came out of the hire shop, or the man they called their husband wasn’t really.

Christine had no such worries: at forty she had accumulated three traditional white frocks and two less formal ones – one from the beach wedding with Javier, (who turned out to be gay); and a grey suit from the Registry Office with James, who believed that everything should be functional (he was a bag of laughs).

Stacy’s party definitely called for white, but no amount of SlimFasting would get her into the dress she wore when she married Andy. She was so tiny then, withered away to almost nothing. Three kids later, and a hell of a lot of comfort eating and she was in a plus size for Ali. He said he liked something to hold onto, but it turned out he wasn’t great at holding onto anything.

So those two were out. All that was left was her first dress. The one that made her mum cry when she tried it on. The one that made the girls in the bridal shop rush with a veil and shoes to pop on, and even an artificial bouquet that she could hold in front of her, so she could get the full impression in the mirror.

She lifted it off the hanger, and slipped it on again. After the years of a yo-yoing waistline, it just about fitted. She circled the gold band on her finger; the one Euan had given her twenty years before. The one she had refused to remove for Javier and Ali and Andy and James. The one she had kept faithful with throughout all the subsequent failures.

Maybe if she wore this dress to Stacy’s party she would stand out among the other brides. Maybe Euan would realise what a mistake he had made. And Stacy would regret inviting her new husband’s ex-wife to her stupid wedding party.

This piece was inspired by a prompt at Creative Writing Ink

Postcards in the Attic

1 Dec

When I was younger I collected postcards, and as a result when people were having a clear-out (usually after a death), they would pass me any postcards they found. I knew I had them, I knew there were treasures there, I just kept putting off looking through them. Today, as a precursor to doing some writing, I pulled them out, and they didn’t disappoint. I haven’t reached the Majorca of the early 80s – flamenco dancers with real skirts, but I have, rather handily, found a bundle from Switzerland, Germany and Austria from the 1950s – the era of my current writing project.

Selection of the Collection

Selection of the Collection

Bizarre postcard of Ronnie and Nancy Reagan with their heads swapped, and a cheery one of a V2 flying bomb – wish you were here?

One of the photos has inspired a chain of thought already, and others are helping with the general vibe. Glad I finally opened the box.

Inheritance

3 Nov

‘And now,’ Clare said, ‘do you regret not opening the door.

She’d caught her at a bad time, otherwise Eve would never have shared so much with Clare, but once she had started it had all come out. She re-focused on the obituary in her hand, carefully cut from a newspaper and sent thousands of miles.

She had made the journey in the opposite direction two years before. The streets of her home town had been both familiar and foreign. A differently coloured front door causing her mind to falter, to stop the memory, to check the dream.

She’d driven the rental out to the farm, parking a mile away, then walking slowly towards the house. At no point did she think she wouldn’t go through with it. Her kids had jobs now, no longer dependent on her; and her divorce settlement allowed her to book the plane ticket with barely a thought.

It was only when she was there, her hand on the doorknob, that she hesitated.

A noise from within startled her. Footsteps. A nicotine-strained cough. The scrape of a chair.

Fear clenched at her stomach, anger at her bowels. The scars she had etched on her thighs with sharpened sticks, pulled.

She wasn’t sure if she had come to forgive or seek forgiveness.

‘Do you regret not opening the door?’ Clare repeated.

What Eve couldn’t explain was that she had heard no raised voices, no pitiful cries or smashes of crockery. But she could feel the quiet disappointment oozing through the door; the aggressive silences; the oppressive power.

‘No,’ Eve said finally. ‘Je ne regrette rien.’ She smiled, deflecting with humour.

‘And did your mother leave you anything?’ Clare asked, picking for secrets to share at her book group.

Eve nodded. ‘I inherited everything.’

 

 

This piece was inspired by this prompt at Creative Writing Ink

 

prompt door open

And Breathe

24 Sep

I know you didn’t know I’d been away, but I have and now I’m home so I thought it was finally time to blog (a little) about what I’ve been up to. Without breaking any medical confidences, I’ve just spent 11 nights in the parents’ accommodation of a large children’s hospital in a city other than the one in which I live.

I’ll not go into details, but suffice to say the whole experience was worthwhile but horrible to live through – and I was only the one sitting by the hospital bed, and not in it.

Anyway, this isn’t a medical blog, it’s a writing one, so here goes:

As I sat, sometimes with my husband, sometimes without, in a variety of wards, kitchens and lounge areas with other parents, I was amazed how much people needed to talk, to tell their stories, to tell the stories of their children. As a women, I’ve been in situations before when I’ve listened to, and told, traumatic stories (normally about childbirth), but my husband hasn’t really and I think he was quite taken aback by people’s openness. It did strike me though how fundamental a need we have to tell these stories, even, or especially, when we are in the middle of trauma/stress/grief.

It also struck me that there is inevitably a form of sympathy competition, where each parent wants to be the one getting rather than giving the sympathy, but none of us want to have the worst story, as that would mean our child might be the one who doesn’t make it.

On a lighter note, as my child did, and is now making good use of her bell to keep me running after her – every day I tried to get a bit of fresh air, and luckily the hospital was situated right next to a large park in the heart of the university area. When I came back my walk I had to regale H with the sights I’d seen. A man on a skateboard isn’t very exciting, but when he’s being pulled by huskies it is. A couple trying and failing to tightrope walk is quite amusing, and a busker who verbally abused posh kids for clapping was just quite disturbing. Anyway, by telling stories about my little walks, it passed a little time.

What didn’t pass the time was me reading, writing or doing anything other than helping H get back on her feet. I had envisaged a Heidi- type scenario with me reading Jane Austen to her, while she lay meekly on the bed. Didn’t realise that once she was off the morphine, I’d be taking over much of her care to prepare us for home. I was absolutely wrecked by the time we left, both physically and mentally, but am finally beginning to re-connect with the outside world, even though H’s recuperation is far from over, and am thinking again about my novel – did I tell you it is set in a hospital…

Final word – the staff at the hospital were absolutely amazing. Comforting, caring and cajoling. Love our NHS.

 

Update – Event More Excited ‘Lost’ – Writing Magazine

3 Aug

Very excited that my short story Lost, which won second prize in the Writing Magazine’s 750 words competition, is now available to read on the Writers Online website, although you may need to be a subscriber to access. Great to get feedback to in the judge’s comments section.

Update:

Just found out that the story is also in the printed version of the magazine – unfortunately mine doesn’t normally arrive until Saturday, so need to make do with a photography sent via the lovely Ethly Smith, whose book Changed Times is out now.

If you manage to read the story I’d love to know what you thought. And you just know you’re going to get a photo of me with the magazine tomorrow, with a big grin on my face.

Scottish Writers' Centre

Company No: SC349247 - Charity No: SC040823

paulahunterblog

Stumbling about gob-smacked by the world

Sarah Tinsley

The Power of Words

Sally Jenkins

A Writer on Writing, Reading and Life

MorgEn Bailey - Creative Writing Guru

A wealth of writing-related goodies from Morgen With An E (writer, editor, tutor, speaker and oh yes, blogger)

The Bath Novel Award

two international competitions for unpublished & independently published novelists

JoUnwin

Helping authors get their books published

Zoë Strachan

News from www.zoestrachan.com

Bucket List Publications

Indulge- Travel, Adventure, & New Experiences

The Reading Room (Seòmar Leughaidh)

Promoting all things writerly on the Isle of Skye

Wee Scoops

Measure for Measure

The Daily Post

The Art and Craft of Blogging

CATHERINE RYAN HOWARD

She turns coffee into books so she can afford to buy more coffee. And more books.

Blog About Writing

Just another WordPress.com site

makemeafrock

I make nice frocks and write average poetry. And there's a bit of embroidery and the occasional rant.

Help! I Need a Publisher!

Writing and the Creative Process

Nail Your Novel

Nail Your Novel - Writing, publishing and self-publishing advice from a bestselling ghostwriter and book doctor

Butterflies and Dragons

Leigh Townsend's Adventures in Trying to Get Published