Losing the ‘L’ Plates!

I’ve come to the end of my latest piece of writing, it’s all been submitted to the publishers and I am at the point where I’m contemplating what to do next. (I’m contemplating some short stories if you’re interested). I know, however, that I’ll eventually want to do a longer piece, be it a novel or even a novella. I might have a go at a sequel to Memory of Snow or I might try something massively Gothic and supernatural. Or I might do something nicer and more romantic. The world is my lobster, as they say, and it’s a really exciting feeling.

I know, also, that I have a ring-binder full of stuff sitting there that I churned out almost twenty years ago and sometimes, at this point in the process, I go into this file to see if there is anything I can breathe new life into. There’s actually a floppy disk in that file with ‘something’ on it which my friend has promised to resurrect for me, therefore bringing it into the digital age –  so that should be interesting; although most probably it will be very cringeworthy as well!

Because this wonderful file is full of, basically, rubbish. Every story, every poem, every article is a failure. None of them got any interest anywhere. None of them got published. None of them won the competi2015-04-11 19.23.32tions they were written for. And very few actually got submitted if I’m honest, because I just didn’t have any confidence. The ones that did get ‘sent off’ (paperclipped together in  large envelope with an accompanying SAE – no email submissions then, not back in the days of beep beep beeeeeeep dial-up connectivity when you were charged by the minute) came back to me just as quickly with a brief ‘thanks but no thanks’. If I was a diva or a drama queen I’d whinge on about it being a folder full of crushed dreams. Realistically, it’s simply a huge learning curve. There’s some decent stuff in there, I think but it just needs weeding out.

I’m attaching a picture here of the folder, just so you can see the amount of rubbish I churned out while I was writing merrily away for my own amusement. I typed it all out on my first PC that had, I think, less memory than a USB stick has today; but fortunately I printed everything out on my trusty Canon BJ-10 black and white printer or it would all have been lost. Occasionally I find a gem in there and one short story – after a few tweaks – was the perfect little story for Choc Lit to use in the Choc Lit newsletter in 2014 to introduce the publication of my novel Some Veil Did Fall.

2015-04-11 19.26.55

I do love looking through the folder though. As I say, I’ve managed to build on some of the stuff in there -one rewritten story, for example, was eventually shortlisted in a competition and one very long short story eventually ended up as my novel Refuge (only the book is about 40 thousand words longer!). I’ve attached a picture of my original version of Refuge, which I put together using a ‘90’s desktop publishing programme from Blue Squirrel that created booklets (wow!) and contrasted that with the real book, along with my other real books. It just goes to show, what a few years, a lot more confidence, a couple of writing courses, a bit of experience, a ton of perseverance and a decent cover designer (thanks Berni Stevens!) can do for a person. I can maybe call myself a ‘proper’ writer now – but every time I see this folder, it makes me smile – and makes me wonder what gems I can salvage from my cheerful little “apprenticeship” as well!

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