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Thursday Next

Are our readers writers?

Caro's newspaper article started me wondering about how many of us write - whether it be newspaper articles, reviews, novels, essays or poetry, to publish or just for fun? And how many always thought they would but have never quite got around to it yet? Or read something and thought 'if that is getting published then maybe I have a chance, I could do better than that!'?

It has always been a plan of mine to write a novel but I haven't had any sparkling ideas yet, I must confess. I wrote a horribly teenage-angst ridden school-based story about the lives and loves of a wannabe band when I was about 18 that ran to about 50,000 words. Reading it now, some parts are good and some make me cringe with embarassment, but I haven't given up hope! I think I should probably try writing a children's book, having some experience of children, but I have a feeling this may be even harder than writing a grown ups book...

At the moment my writing is limited to fanfiction (I'm slightly addicted to the buzz I get from reviews) and random challenges like the Seasonal Shorts thing and other similar challenges on other websites and occasionally with a friend who likes writing although we haven't had time for a while.

I write and post film reviews on a movie forum, but have given up the idea of ever being a film reviewer (which I once thought was my ideal job) as I can't think of something to say oftem enough. I had a book review (of The Eyre Affair) printed in a book club magazine once, but that's the closest I've got to being in print Smile

So what about you?

Like, I imagine, every other teenager passionate about literature, I had wanted to write a novel. But after a while, I figured out that even if I worked very hard at it, I would produce a novel that would be, at best, mediocre. And I had to ask myself: does the world really need yet another mediocre novel? So I gave up my writing aspirations quite early on in life.

When I was not long married I remember telling my husband I would like to be a writer, but as someone said there are a lot of people who want to be writers and not so many who actually want to write.  

My first published (apart from the school rag we put out) work was a series of articles about why people had called their children what they had.  I asked people in newspapers this question and got about 100 replies (how wonderful it was for me loving to get mail to receive these).  This research was fun and eventually I got to writing the articles and got paid quite well for them.  

It was only when I moved and the reporter here wasn't well and asked if I would take over a bit that I started writing regularly for the paper.  But that article is not what I write mostly - most of the stories I write are for a local community paper and are just simple little local interest stories.  This week's paper, for instance will have stories from me of New Year activities and tourist visitor numbers, the centennial of a religious convention in the area, obituaries to two people, a report of the yachting competition and one on a fishing competition, and a report on a quilting exhibition.  (I am just part-time and paid by whatever story or photo is published.  I do my own photos.)

The deadlines of a newspaper are helpful to me who is very much a procrastinator and doesn't like work at all much.  

I have never tried to write fiction and indeed have no imagination for this sort of writing.  I have done the odd bit of historical writing which is really nothing more than typing up other people's stories really.  A bit of editing and shaping.

Our community has a little writing group where we write stories of our background and history for our families.  These for me ended up in booklets for my sons' 21sts.  

Cheers, Caro.

I decided to write a novel when I was 16 and even got a pad of writing paper and a pen for my birthday.  Needless to say the novel has never appeared and, I suspect, never will.  

I once sent a short story to a magazine thinking that it would be printed (naturally) and was quite surprised to find it returned with a note saying that  although it was quite well written it wasn't really what they were looking for -  again I was a teenager and my story was about a puppy that I'd found (true) and totally different to that which they were printing, as a result of which I was sure that it would be printed.

Other than that I stuck to essays at school and never really explored the idea further.  Until I decided to write poetry some twenty years ago, and realised that it would never be any good - even for my eyes only - so gave that up as well.


English was the only subject I was ever any good at I found it easy and words just came naturally, so I always fancied myself as a bit of a writer as a child, you know childish delusions of grandure, the first thing I remember writing was I wrote an essay (it was a exercise book not A4) about the birth of Jesus when I was about 7 and I wrote word for word what the angel Gabriel said to Mary when he told her she was going to have a baby (my dad was a vicar and I had had listened to audio tapes of the bible for children from a young age and could recite many passages from memory and so just wrote them down) and the teacher didn't believe I had done it on my own she thought I had copied it down from somewhere because she said it was too good despite the fact I had sat there in the classroom and written it in the lesson and I got told off for copying and lying as I maintained I hadn't copied it. Although I suppose in a way I did as it was the words from the bible I just knew it word for word.  I never forgot that as I was so proud of what I had written then got told off for it. Then when I was 11 I did a diary of a first world war soldier and it came 2nd in a writing competition at school (apparently the teacher told me it was the best of all the entries and visually the most effort had gone into it and although it was the most historically acurate as well it didn't come first because it was too graphic an account of war as I had thoroughly done my research and so it was deemed unsuitable to be read out in assembly - plus I had the soldier die at the end whilst he was writing it I can see it now I just stopped writing mid sentence and got some red ink and dropped it on the paper - always one for the dramatic artistic touch plus I had tea stained all the papers and crumpled them and rubbed a bit of soil on them and tied them together with a piece of string and made it look like a proper handmade diary!)  I sort of gave up after that.  The only writing I do now is letter writing to a couple of friends who have moved away.

Apple!  You shouldn't let teachers opinions affect what you do now, they don't know what you're gonna be!

Have another go!

Miranda Thats very kind of you but I was a kid of 11 with delusions of grandure, who happened to find english easy I'm nearly 30 years older now! and you need a little more than delusions of grandure to make it as a writer - like talent! But thank you for your kind words.
Green Jay

Sometimes the blame - or praise - you get from teachers stems from their own ignorance or lack of imagination. Couldn't a teacher 30 years ago imagine that children might learn things off by heart?

I'm still scarred from a teacher being scathing/tittering when I used the word 'secrete' (as in hide something secretly) correctly in one of its meanings, because she thought the only meaning was as in bodily secretion, and she clearly thought that a little rude. And this from an English teacher. Another time I wrote 'apposite' and a teacher read it out loud as 'opposite',which changed the whole thing and made it make no sense.  Rolling Eyes Do I take these things too seriously?

I am quite happy to write short pieces for boards like this but I have no desire to be a published writer.
I ran a community radio programme on books until last year and received a number of press releases on short story competitions. The last one was from the Bristol (England) Short Story competition. Are these contests not attractive to budding writers?

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