“Florrie Moore is Innocent” – Short story shortlisted by Writers’ Forum Magazine competition

Today I heard my short story Florrie Moore is Innocent has been shortlisted by Writers’ Forum Magazine.

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This exciting news has come at the perfect time, as I’ve recently been feeling disheartened my collection of “lockdown shorts” have been struggling to find homes.

Although being shortlisted does not mean the story will be published (only if it wins one of the top three places), this is still a massive confidence boost. It reminds me of a blog post I wrote a couple of years ago about how important it is to celebrate all successes, however large or small.

Florrie Moore is Innocent is set in Victorian Bristol and was partly inspired by the BBC programme A House Through Time. I love reading historical fiction, but this was my attempt at writing historical fiction for an adult audience. I’m therefore thrilled the story has been shortlisted, and in a reputable magazine at that.

Should I use archaic language when writing historical fiction? You can find my earlier blog post on this topic here.

This weekend, I’ll be back to cramming in novel rewrites (more on that soon). But for tonight, atleast, I’m going to be putting my feet up and delighting in my shortlist success.

Blog Post published on Dare to Write?

This week my blog post “Why I’ve been Writing Short Stories during Lockdown” was published on Dare to Write?

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Dare to Write? aims to inspire and support anyone at any point on their writing career journey, from emerging writers to published professionals.

My blog post was in response to a call for submissions to “The Great Margin” – “A series of stories about places and people living in
and between the margins of our writing world
“. The project is co-funded by Bath Spa University and Paper Nations. You can read the blog post on the Dare to Write website here.

Diary of an aspiring author IV

I received the worst feedback a writer can receive this morning: a short story I’ve written is PREDICTABLE. I can deal with criticisms on grammar, or suggestions to restructure or rewrite part of a story, but being told something I’ve written is basically boring hurt.

When I receive critiques, I try and leave it a day minimum before returning to that story and addressing the comments. You can read my post on ‘The Stages of Receiving Feedback’ here.

Today I’ve instead turned my efforts towards writing a diary style blog post. I haven’t written a “Diary of an Aspiring Author” style post for a while. For me, they can feel a little self-indulgent. But in the spirit of producing at least one of these per year, here we go.

diary girl hand journal

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If you’re interested, here are some of my previous diary pieces:

Diary of an Aspiring Author

Diary of an Aspiring Author II

Diary of an Aspiring Author, my first review

2020 has been a strange year for many reasons. From an aspiring author side of things, I started the year feeling optimistic. I hoped to push forward with my novel again. Then coronavirus hit, and I struggled to do anything creative at all (see my post, “Is it OK to not be writing?”). This was followed by a flurry of short stories and some success, with one story being published and read on BBC Radio.

For a long time now, I’ve been dwelling over whether I should call it a day on my first novel, Lost in Galderwood. Despite some early interest from an agent, I’ve never managed to achieve what I hoped for it. Maybe it is time to give up and try something new.

However, there’s something keeping me holding on: I still really believe in the overarching plot. I know it has potential. Yet I wrote the novel back in 2017, and my writing has come a long way since then. And not just my writing abilities, my general knowledge of plot and experience of the writing world has improved too (lets ignore the short story with the predictable plot for now).

That’s why I’ve decided to give it one final try. I now realise when I attempted to rewrite Lost in Galderwood before in 2019, I was trying to hold onto too much of the original plot and writing. Stepping away and focusing on short stories this year has allowed me to understand that what I really need to do is start over with a blank page.

I’m going to keep the overarching plot, but change sub-plots, some characters, and some locations, and focus much more on character’s motives. I’ve hoping I’ll be able to make a good start on this before the end of the year.

I’ve still got the short stories I wrote during lockdown and will continue to submit these with the hope they can find good homes. And I will finish that final short story once I’ve figured out a way to make it less predictable! But I may be tucking myself into the slightly secluded world of novel writing for the next six months. It’s a scary but exciting place to be!

fresh magnolia flower on green diary

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Imposter Syndrome for Writers: how to stop feeling like a fraud

Am I allowed to call myself an author? This was the title of the first blog post I ever wrote for this site. I was confused what to call my blog. Should I refer to myself as an author, or an aspiring author? And when do I qualify as a ‘real’ writer and give myself permission to drop the ‘aspiring’?

An author is somebody who writes. There are no further rules than that. Some authors write short stories, some novels. Some authors publish via the traditional route, others self-publish, and some write for the pure pleasure of it. There is no magical number of publications to achieve. So why do I, two years later, still question whether I am ‘allowed’ to call myself an author or not.

woman in gray sweater using laptop beside glass window

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What is Imposter Syndrome?

Imposter syndrome can be defined as feelings of inadequacy. Those suffering from imposter syndrome may have feelings of self-doubt; they may feel like they’ve only achieved things due to luck, or by fooling others, that their success isn’t deserved. They may feel like they don’t belong and worry they’ll be exposed as a fraud in their chosen field at any moment.

Imposter Syndrome and Writers

Whereas writers block is not knowing what to write, imposter syndrome is more about doubting yourself as a writer, and questioning if you should be writing at all, or whether you’d be better off giving up. This is something I’ve been fighting ever since I started to take my writing more seriously a few years ago. These are some of my previous posts:

Do you ever find yourself making excuses when you tell people you are or want to be a writer?

I’m a writer, but I have another day job, it’s just a dream really…

I’m a writer but it’s just a hobby…

I’m a writer but I’m not that good…

I’m a writer but I’ve only had one thing published, I’m not a real writer…

Why are we always putting ourselves down like this?

Writers with imposter syndrome will find even when they do get a story shortlisted or published, or receive some positive feedback on their work, they’ll attribute that success to luck, rather than to hard work and skill.

Imposter syndrome isn’t very nice. It’s not good for our wellbeing, but it’s also not very good for our writing. It could make you overly critical of your work, make you more reluctant to show others, hesitant to put your writing out there, and in the long run could result in you stopping writing altogether.

How can we beat that ‘I’m not a real writer’ feeling?

The first thing to do is to understand A LOT of writers get imposter syndrome once in a while. And I don’t just mean emerging writers. Even incredibly successful authors such as Neil Gaiman and Maya Angelou have both reported suffering from imposter syndrome. And just look at how amazingly successful they are. Knowing you’re not alone in these feelings can help you to move past them.

I’d also suggest talking about your feelings with other writers. Writing can be lonely, so it’s important to find a writing community. This could be a friend who is also a writer, it could be a local writing group, or an online group. The main thing is to talk to other writers, share in the highs and lows. This will help you to realise you are not alone in your feelings.

The third thing you can do is to look back over your successes, however small. This doesn’t need to be a publication. Even re-reading positive feedback about your work can remind you of why you’re writing. I’ve mentioned before how much of a fan I am of keeping diaries. I have a five year one, and whenever I’m feeling a bit down, I love to go back and look at what I was doing in previous years. It’s easy to forget how far we’ve come; sometimes we need to remind ourselves.

But the most important thing you can do is to be kind to yourself. Treat yourself the way you would treat others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Short story A Dog called Rupert on the radio! BBC Upload

I have some really exciting news to share this week. My short story, A Dog called Rupert, featured on BBC Radio Somerset last night! I was invited onto the show by radio host Sarah Gosling to chat about my writing in general and read the story out.

The radio show is available to listen to at https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p08jbr39 (I’m on around 33mins), but only for the next 29 days (as of 12/7/20) – so listen quick!

A Dog called Rupert was originally published in the June 2020 issue of A Spot of Writing Magazine, by Weston Writer’s Nights. You can find my original post here. I wanted to create a story set during lockdown in the UK, which highlighted the way communities and neighbourhoods have pulled together during the pandemic.

stack of books placed on seat of wooden swing

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BBC Upload

BBC upload offers artists a chance to showcase their talent on the BBC. It encourages uploads from all genres, including music, poetry – and I was delighted to discover they accept short story submissions too.

The submission process was super easy. Simply visit their website, find your local radio station, upload a file, and send off your work. I was so surprised (in a good way!) that less than 24 hours later I’d received an email, inviting me to be on the show the following evening.

As my submission was a short story, submitted in text form, I was asked to send in a recording of me reading it aloud. This was the scary part, as I’m not that confident reading my work aloud! But it was nice that I could do this from the comfort of my lounge, recording lots of takes, until I was happy with the final product.

Sarah (the radio host, not me), then called me yesterday evening for the live interview part of the show. Although I was slightly nervous beforehand, this part was fun! I’ve never been on the radio before, and it was a fantastic opportunity to get my name out there. Sarah was really encouraging and complimentary of my writing, and asked questions such as what inspired the story, and what advice I’d give to other people who were thinking about writing.

BBC Upload was a really positive experience. The submission stage was so much simpler than many others I’ve experienced – it took less than 2 minutes to upload my piece, and I received a reply almost instantly – again, pretty unusual, as authors are usually kept waiting weeks for news! So, whatever you’ve written, or if you have any creative work to share and you’re based in the UK, I encourage you to send it to BBC Upload. You never know, you could be on the radio the very next day!