Off on a tangent

Another week has passed me by. I had just the one sleepless night, because I went off on a tangent. I do that now and again. This particular one was literary related, and my intentions were honourable.

In terms of progress, I have made a start on Assignment 2, which involves reading and researching both letters, and fillers, in magazines and newspapers. The first challenge is logistical, in that there are relatively few UK publications to be found on this peninsular, close to Entebbe. Ever the optimist, I undertake the research online. I subscribe for one month to ‘People’s Friend’ and for six months to ‘Writing Magazine’. I read quite a few letters and decide that one of my pieces will be ‘A Letter to…’ which features weekly in the Guardian.

At this point I start to veer off course. I don’t know what possessed me, but I send off a short letter to a UK magazine, asking if they were interested  in my experience of having malaria. I guess not, as I have heard nothing back from them. Whatever! Not to be deterred, I still wrote a first draft of that experience, with a view to sending it to my tutor, and submitting it to a different publication. So I am kind of back on track.

What seems to becoming a habit, is I either check my Facebook page, or look at blogs I follow on this site. I stumble across an article (oh let’s be truthful, articles), then, whoosh! Total random deviation off course. I sign up to a fantastic website, http://thewritepractice.com/members/writing-contest/ and am absolutely done for. Competition time! What am I doing?

My rationale (yes, there is an element of reasoning, going on here) is, I would have some pressure to submit a short story, once I had read up on what elements I need to include in said short story. It is not as simple as it appears, writing a short story. I have learnt a lot about theme as opposed to plot; dialogue and action, and how to ‘show’ as opposed to ‘tell’. One little niggle is, the website is an American one. I am very English. So my written work is in English English. Or am I supposed to write UK English? Well, this is my blog, and I’m not…

Monday evening I did not go to bed. I stayed up and wrote. I believe I read (and still believe that I was not hallucinating), that the deadline was midnight USA time on 23 March. Suddenly I had but six hours to produce this masterpiece. I wrote a little more. Not for great periods of time, mind. I had to get up, and have the odd piece of chocolate from the fridge. I had an idea for a short story, but all of the planning somehow took the fun out of it for me. I am not entirely sure I enjoyed it. However, I am pleased that I have a dodgy draft down on paper (or whatever you call its equivalent on the laptop). One of the conditions for entry to the competition, is that you must critique fellow contestants work. So that too was a quick brush up on ‘how to critique’. I am well and truly off the beaten track, by this time. Wrecked.

Tuesday I go to bed at the same time my husband is getting up for work. I surface late morning, having snatched about four hours shut-eye. I check the forums, and wonder why people are still posting when the deadline has passed. I endeavour to find the initial information about the competition, and…

Yes. I had the date for the deadline completely incorrect.  That means I have until Sunday 29 March to submit my polished draft, then another week to spruce it up even further. So I am not going to look at it for another day. I have asked a couple of friends to read it through and give their opinion. The jury is still out on that, but I could see areas that need some work.

Where does this leave me? I have total respect for short story writers. I am not convinced this is going to be my niche. I’m fine, with that.

So here is a possible opening paragraph:

The wind rustled leaves across the patio. Lightening illuminated the recesses of the bedroom, as thunder clapped, causing the warped, wooden window frames to rattle. Rain drumming against the glass stirred Amber from her slumber. A silhouette lurched towards her. His silhouette.
“Ryan!’ she cried.

Any comments, critique, good, bad or otherwise truly welcome, on the blog.

I am not planning on being the winner….just a participant, a player. That’s me.

Oh, and I have still to buy Microsoft for Mac…

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