Friday, 30 December 2016

The last minute submission and the yearly review

Don't write something at the last minute and submit it at almost the final hour. That's my advice. Do I take it?! This is just what I have done today. My success with poetry this year has been pitiful and I've more or less given it up. And then I saw my local library was advertising their yearly poetry competition. Now, I've been quite successful here in the past - one year I came second and another I had a poem commended. The competition is also free and has the added advantage of being local, so no global entries into their thousands.

I saw the competition late, picked up the leaflet and pondered it. Now and then I thought about it again and then yesterday (deadline is 31st December!) I decided I'd look and see if I had anything fitting this year's theme. I did! You can enter up to four poems. I had three and then dismissed one. And then.,,,,,,oh dear....I decided to write one specifically for it. The idea came quickly. It's amusing (amusing poems don't win prizes but it's a free entry so what the heck. I like them). I re-read my poems again and then sat on them overnight. I don't have longer to ponder them. I read them again this morning and still liked them, including my last minute write. So I've shot them off this morning. The good thing about this competition (and entering late) is that I shall know one way or another by the end of January if any have sunk or swum into the winning zone.

Now I wouldn't recommend writing this way - last minute - because one day you go back and look at it and think what the hell! But now and then I like to take risks. It's anonymous, who's going to know! So there we have it, my last submission of the year.

And now we come to my review of the year. It makes an interesting read but will probably bore the pants off you. Still here goes.

  • January - three poems submitted - no acceptances
  • February - three poems submitted and two flash fictions - one flash fiction accepted
  • March - one flash fiction submitted (accepted) and three short stories
  • April - four flash fictions submitted - one accepted
  • May - one flash fiction submitted and accepted
  • June - A poetry pamphlet competition entry with 20 poems, 5 other poems submitted, one flash fiction and one short story - short story accepted
  • July - nine poems submitted and three short stories - (one short story still waiting result) 
  • August - three flash fiction submissions and one short story - one flash accepted and one was shortlisted.
  • September - Two flash fictions (both accepted) and two short stories
  • October - nine poems submitted, (one accepted, four waiting result) four flash fictions (two accepted, one waiting result) and one short story
  • November - Two flash fictions submitted - both accepted
  • December - three poems submitted (waiting result), one flash fiction (accepted) and two short stories (waiting result)

What I see here is that flash fiction has been my forte and I intend to plug away with that. Flash fiction is anything up to 1,000 words in my book. The shortest published flash I've written was 50 words. I have to thank Paragraph Planet for liking my words enough for me to appear on their website on average once a month! (I love it that my name appears alongside my favourite author Elly Griffiths). Thanks PP. Their 75 word challenge is a great one. Another flash fiction I wrote was originally an exercise from the Open University FutureLearn online writing course. I always liked it and though it wasn't picked in a competition I entered Gold Dust magazine liked it and it can now be read in their latest edition online! (Issue 30) I was thrilled to be told this story entitled High Noon had made it. It has that certain humour I so much enjoy writing. I only found out on Christmas Eve that it was published, though I'd known for a couple of months it was to happen.

My very first short story to be published came out in an Anthology by Eyelands (a Greek based competition). This was an other long wait. My story Reading the Auras was a shortlisted entry appearing alongside the winning ones. The book due out at the end of November was delayed (and then there was postal strike in Crete!). It arrived on Christmas Eve. So, you can see I was in rather a good mood for Christmas!

Deciding to write more flash stories and short fiction is paying off. I adore writing them and people seem to like them. I thought it would be good practice for novel writing as before attempting my first novel I'd only really written really short flash fiction. I did send out one of my novels to two agents. Both returned it and I have since re-written the first chapter and am trying to get some professional feedback on it. While I can get feedback on shorter stories through my writing group a novel is different. I have no one to read those at all so I haven't a clue if they work.

Having completed all my goals for 2016 by not aiming too high I am now thinking about 2017.
My goals look like this:

  1. Continue writing and submitting flash fiction and stories widely
  2. Get professional feedback on one novel
  3. Edit one novel and try and find an agent
  4. Continue writing longhand in my special notebook using the prompts from Writer to Writer (I'm so enjoying this right now) and type up some of the stories for submitting once edited
  5. Finish the humorous novel (it's very close to the end)
  6. Take time away from writing sometimes (I've found the pressure of not writing a novel at the moment so good!)
  7. Have a sort of writer's retreat just to relax and write without the burden of chores and family
  8. Probably book a place at Swanwick Writers' Summer School in August

I think number 3 will be the tricky one!

I have no desire (right now) to write another novel, though that doesn't mean I don't have ideas. I would like to write a sequel to one and one other humorous novel so I have a set of three! There are other ideas, notes and profiles but I'm not going there yet. I have to consolidate what I have with lots of editing and submitting. This will be the year of the flash and the short!

Looks like it could be a busy year and hopefully a fruitful one. Wishing everyone luck with their own writing in 2017. And if you feel brave tell me your goals.

STOP PRESS I've just found out that I have been longlisted for the Retreat West prize (short story category). That was my one waiting from July! This doesn't mean I'll get on the short list and I have to wait another month for this. Oh the waiting, the waiting! Wish me luck! HAPPY!


  1. What a busy year you've had, Heather, and successful too. Definitely carry on with what you have planned. Every luck with the short story, the poems and your 2017 goals. Happy New Year to you.

  2. Thanks so much for your comments. Good luck with your own writing in 2017. All the best.