Monday, 4 March 2013

Lightbulb Moments

The other day was I browsing through my favourite blogs when I came across Wendy Clarke's guest post on the wonderful Womag Writer's blog.

In the two years since she was made redundant, Wendy has carved out what appears to be successful career in writing short stories for woman's magazines. You can find her blog here.

When I read her blog, my initial instinct was how lucky she was to have had such success. And then I had a lightbulb moment.........

Luck did have something to do with it. Getting the right manuscript in front of the right editor at the right time does have a certain amount of serendipity, but I suspect that Wendy's success has more to do with hard work, an ability to learn from mistakes and work with editors to give them what they want.

And then of course numbers do come into it. When I read that Wendy had 14 short stories accepted last year, it made me wonder just how many stories she had subbed to get that many yeses.

It made me think about my own submission rate. At the moment I'm only managing to sub about one story a month. Albeit that I am working other projects, but even so, it's pitiful, especially when not all of those submissions are new material, but often re-worked stories. I quickly realised that if I'm ever going to have any success in this field, I need to put an awful lot more effort into it.

Doing some late night reading later that same day I had another lightbulb moment. A. germ of a story idea hit me and instead of shelving it in my mind as I am often tempted to do, I wrote it down. And as I did so a title even came to me - and titles are often the hardest for me.

The next morning I decided to develop the idea. I was just intending to write a plotline but as I did, snippets of text came into my head and I started to write them down.

It's not often that a story writes itself in the first draft, but this one was like a gift. Its just under 1000 words, but there is room for development. I've put it to one side for a few days and then I will type it up, edit it and send it out. Who knows, my own luck might be about to change.

But just to be on the safe side, I've also gone through my back catalogue, identifying which stories can be re-worked for other markets. I have a much clearer idea now of where I'm up to and one thing is for certain - March is going to be a lot more productive than the last few months.

So thank you Wendy for giving me a good kick up the bum and for renewing my enthusiasm.


  1. Wow! Thanks Linda! You are right about a lot of things in this post. Most importantly, although I would hope that a bit of an ability to write stories comes into play here, I do write a lot - a aim for four stories a month if possible. I also try to ignore rejections and either rework and resubmit elsewhere or write another. Also, even though studying the magazines is very important, it is equally important to write in a style that is comfortable for you - I learnt early on that it never works to write in someone else's style (because you think this is what the magazine wants) as the story will not ring true. Finally, Don't worry too much about the title - the magazine will often give your story their own title anyway. Good luck with your writing.

  2. Hi Wendy

    Thanks so much for your words of wisdom. I'm sure your talent is a large part of your success, and I do hope you didn't think that I implied otherwise. What I meant was that you can be the most talented writer in the world but it won't make any difference to being published if your stories remain in your head or on your pc.

    Many apolgies if my post sounded otherwise.


  3. I didn't think that at all, Lind and it was very sweet of you to mention my post and link to my blog.