Sunday, 24 February 2013

Guest Post by Wendy Clarke

I have another guest post for you today - Wendy Clarke has written an inspirational piece about how she began writing womag fiction, how she learned the practicalities and made her first sales. I especially love her description of being like a child in a sweet shop exploring this blog!  



Today is my anniversary. No not my wedding anniversary but the anniversary of writing my first story for a magazine.

I had just finished an online writing course and my tutor had suggested that this might be a good direction to take but I was na├»ve: I had no idea how to go about it or even what sort of stories the magazine’s wanted.

Those first stories were pretty bad and looking back at them I can see why so many of those first ones were rejected. In a word, I had no idea what I was doing but I was determined that I would not give up until I’d had a story published.

I took stock and realised that this was not something I could do without help. Where was this help to come from? In fact it came from many sources. Firstly there were many practical questions I needed answering: Was it permissible to send two in one envelope? How long should I expect to wait before hearing back?

Having read Linda Lewis’s excellent book, The Writer’s Treasury of Ideas, I decided that she might be the one to help me out with the practical side of writing and how right I was: she answered all my questions patiently and was very encouraging in those early days of insecurity. Her kind words: I have a feeling you're going to have success quite soon as you have all the qualities you need - imagination to come up with lots of stories, and perseverance… made me all the more determined to succeed and those words have stayed with me.

Practical issues sorted out, what of the emotional support that every writer needs? My husband has always been my greatest support but I also needed the company of other writers (even if only virtual) and so turned to the web and to other writers’ blogs. The first one I read was this one and I spent hours pouring over the old posts – I was like a child in a sweet shop!

I then did some reading of other blogs and what I found was a wonderful warm community of writers. Their informative posts or even just general writerly chat helped me to realise I was not alone out there. This was about the time (last August) that I made my first sale to Take a Break’s Fiction Feast (a huge thank you to Norah McGrath) and decided to start my own blog Wendy’s Writing Now to chart my writing progress from first sale and to help and encourage other new writers.

I am so glad I did: the encouragement and warmth of both new and established writers has been indescribable and a great boost on those gloomy ‘I can’t do this any more’ days. What I learnt in the blogging world is you get back what you put in – I try and be as involved as I can in other writer’s blogs and in turn receive lovely comments from my new writing ‘friends’ and have even managed to meet up with one of them.

‘But what of the writing?’ I hear you ask. Well, I know that I have been very lucky: Soon after my sale to Fiction Feast, the lovely People’s Friend bought one of my stories and I cannot thank them enough for their time and patience, since then, in helping me to make my stories better. Without their faith in my writing I may well have given up. A sale to Woman’s Weekly followed.

I have been privileged this last year to have sold fourteen stories to Fiction Feast, The People’s Friend and Woman’s Weekly and I can honestly say that the thrill of seeing the stories in print never abates BUT it hasn’t been easy. I have had many, many rejections but with each rejection I pick myself up and write another one. My biggest advice to new writers is write, write, write and send, send, send – it’s the only way if you are serious about magazine writing.

Good luck to all you new writers out there. I hope my story will encourage you. My latest short story, ‘Remember’, can be read in this month’s Fiction Feast and the inspiration behind this story can be read on my blog.

32 comments:

L said...

Thanks for sharing and motivating us. I agree, the writing community is almost as generous as gardeners when it comes to passing on helpful tips and cushioning the blow of a rejection.

Laura Marcus said...

Lovely story Wendy. I'm one of four children and my Dad used to lightly pencil in our heights every year on one of the walls in the lounge in the house I grew up in.

Think writing on the walls from previous occupants is a very potent idea for a story.

Congratulations on your success and thanks for sharing your journey to publication with us.

Wendy's Writing said...

You're welcome L and Laura. Thank you for reading.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

That's such an inspiring and encouraging post, Wendy, thank you. You deserve great success, not least for never giving up, and for sending out so many stories. Well done!

Wendy's Writing said...

Thank you Rosemary. (you are of course one of the lovely encouraging people I mentioned!)

susanjanejones said...

Thanks for the great advice Wendy, I sometimes feel like never writing another word, but when I look in my diary I haven't sent out that many stories really, it only feels like it. Will look out for your story and keep up the good work.

TracyFells said...

What a lovely post Wendy. You have had amazing success in your first year of writing. I took 2 years to sell my first story so am staggered by your sales success. But having read your stories I can see why - you are a very talented writer. So the success will long continue! This is so encouraging to other womag writers too.

Wendy's Writing said...

I know those 'never going to write another word' moments only too well, Susan - you just have to make yourself don't you.

Hi Tracy - the only womag writer I've met in the flesh! I think your success is with your competition writing - so many wins!

Karen said...

Lovely post :o)

I'm sure I'd never have had the confidence to start submitting my stories without the support and feedback from internet friends - they really have made all the difference.

Wendy's Writing said...

I totally agree, Karen!

blogaboutwriting said...

Wendy
Thanks for a very inspiring post and congratulations on your success. 14 stories in your first year is pretty good going! I just wondered what your hit rate is? You said you sent out a lot of stories - can I be cheeky and ask how many? I'll be honest, my hit rate with WW in the last 12 months has been 1 in 5 (so, last year I sent them 15 stories and 3 were accepted). You're either doing much better than this or you're sending out a LOT!!
Thanks! Helen

Anonymous said...

Hi Wendy - Congratulations on your well deserved success. Hard work and tenacity pays off in the end. I've been writing for 15 months with 9 stories published in that time. It's a lonely job and the rejections don't half sting. Sometimes I wonder why I do it. I'd love to know how long you spend on producing a short story. Best wishes and more successes to you. x

Wendy's Writing said...

Hi Helen. Your hit rate for WW is much better than mine as I have only had 2 sales to your 3 and have sent more out. I have sold more to the other two (so do you look at hit rate for all mags or each mag individually?)If I did a hit rate for last year it wouldn't look too good. This year it is looking much better. I shall have to work it out and then I'll put it on my blog sometime. If we worried too much about the acceptance/rejection ratio we would all probably stop writing!

Anonymous - you've done really well. We must have started writing at the same time. Do you have a blog? Come over and visit mine if you get lonely writing!

Wendy's Writing said...

Sorry Anonymous - forgot to say that it's difficult to say how long it takes me to write a story. I usually have one finished and ready to be sent in three days but I won't have been writing all day -just a few hours each day.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for answering my question Wendy - I can take weeks to write a story sometimes; at other times I may take a day although that's rare (but wonderful) when it happens - but I write all day. I don't have a blog but I'd love to drop by yours sometimes so thanks for the invite. Keep writing...

Pat Posner said...

Great post, Wendy.
Writing life would be lonely without the friendship and support of other writers.

Wendy's Writing said...

You're right, Pat. I'll always remember how you left a comment welcoming me to blogland last August when I had just started my blog - I don't forget things like that!

joanne fox said...

Enjoyed your post, Wendy. You are an inspiration!

Wendy's Writing said...

That is very kind of you, Joanne although I am sure there are greater inspirations out there in the writing world than me. Mind you, if there was a 'Never Give Up' award I might possibly be a contender!

Antonia said...

Great post! I like the way you've managed to make it clear it isn't all plain-sailing, yet really encouraged the writer.

Wendy's Writing said...

Thank you, Antonia. I'm glad you thought so as this was what I wanted to get across. It's very discouraging to new writers if they only hear about the acceptances and nothing about the hours spent writing and the rejections as well!

Dolores Doolittle said...

Thank you Womag and thank you Wendy for bubbly encouragement!

Wendy's Writing said...

Thanks, Dolores - bubbly is good!

Anonymous said...

I have to say I find FF's mass
rejection season very brutal.

I have no idea why they can't organize themselves a little better.

AB.

Wendy's Writing said...

I feel your pain AB!

Patsy said...

You're right - writers are generally very helpful and supportive of each other.

Wendy's Writing said...

And you were one of my first supporters, Patsy.

Anonymous said...

Mass rejection season? Eek...what's that? I hope they read the stories first.

Wendy's Writing said...

I was going to answer the first part of the question and then realised I would have just been speculating as I didn't actually know the answer! I am sure all the stories do get read though.

Marianne Wheelaghan said...

What a lovely, positive post about writing! Yes, writing is a very lonely business and can be very daunting and, as yo rightly say, the support of others invaluable. It seems to me that you have one of the most important thing of all, apart from the ability to write wonderful, interesting engaging stories, and that is determination! Well done, you :)

Wendy's Writing said...

Thank you Marianne - and for all the lovely supportive comments you leave!

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