Tuesday 6 December 2022

I'm home again

Sorry I didn't manage to keep up with the blog, particularly responding to comments whilst I was away. These photos are the best I can do by way of excuse.

I'm back home now, but not yet 'back' in the sense that normal service has been resumed. That might not ever happen ... Still, I wanted to share this snippet of womag news before it was too late for anyone to act on it. 

Sylvia magazine are briefly open to submissions. For this submission window only they're looking for work on the subject of menstruation. That's not a topic we write about very often, is it? Maybe we should, but on this occasion I don't think I will. They pay 25p per word of prose or £1.75 per line of poetry.

When I put up my last post, saying I was taking a short break from the blog I felt a sense of relief that the pressure was off, so I'm having a think about its future. Any suggestions for making it as useful as possible, without taking up too much of my time, are welcome.

Quick reminder about my free short story collection, Not A Drop To Drink. It would help me if those who are able (you need either a kindle or to download the free reading app) would download a copy. Even better if you enjoy reading it and leave a review!


Jenny Worstall said...

Welcome home! One suggestion to take the pressure off you and reduce the workload is maybe instead of you posting all the competitions and writing opportunities passed on to you by readers, maybe encourage people to post the opportunities etc in comments themselves under the latest blog post. Another suggestion is to post less often and make posts less detailed. Apologies, because this all sounds pretty obvious, but please know this, Patsy, that womag writers are SO grateful for all your hard work with this blog, and I know I speak for everyone when I say a massive THANK YOU. Perhaps if I turn the question around, what would YOU like readers of your blog to do to help take the pressure off?

Sharon boothroyd said...

If I ran a blog (and I'm relieved that I don't, as it's a big pressure and it can easily become a chore) I'd ask people to sub guest blog pieces to cover certain months.
The idea behind it would be to ask people to write about the pitfalls and fun of writing Xmas fiction, Valentine/ summer/ bonfire night/ Mother's day womag fiction.
I know that might not be possible to find all the blog writers though!
You could have have a 'Womag writing tips and hints' section, where reader send you their hints and tips - you could pick the best ones out to be published in this blog.
Another idea is to have an Agony aunt section (Dear Patsy?) where readers contact you with their writing problems and you try and solve them by offering your wise advice.
You could have 'What gets your goat' section where people write about what annoys or frustrates them most about being a womag writer.
A free womag writing penpal/ mentor section, where people could look for (and volunteer for) an email penpal or a mentor.
Or how about a poetry corner, when people send in their 12 line poems? Perhaps you could offer small prizes for the best ones- eg one of your books, pens and a pretty notebook, plus a bar of choc.
If you don't feel confident about judging poems, ask someone who is a published poet to judge.
These are just ideas!
You could just post once a fortnight and see how that goes.

ados123 said...

Oh, good ideas from Sharon and Jenny.
I would miss the blog very much if you stopped but I could certainly understand if you opted to reduce the frequency. I am happy to pass on comps I find and I've picked up comps from you that I've entered. Having one place for womag information is invaluable.
All you do is very much appreciated.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Welcome back!
Maybe just make a simple schedule to follow. A couple days and the others you can take a break. Hate to see you stop!

Sheelagh said...

Welcome back Patsy,lovely photos as usual. Now re the blog I see some good ideas above on how to reduce the pressure of keeping up with it. Like others I would be very sad if you decided to stop altogether but I think the idea of people posting competition info directly, getting guest writers to take on certain months entirely and maybe reducing the frequency to once a fortnight or even once a month are good ideas. Also I'd suggest that you don't need to reply to every post individually unless the person has a query. I know its lovely to hear from you and I very much enjoy that part of the blog but I can understand that it is very demanding on your time and I'd rather have much less frequent updates than none at all Patsy. Its such a great resource and I know that without it I would not have had so much published outside of Ireland if at all so a big thank you for your generosity with your time and information.

Liz said...

This is an amazing resource, Patsy, and I think we'd all miss it - though we'd also understand if you wanted to move on. It's obviously time-consuming.

It definitely helped me when I decided to start writing womag stories in 2019. I think what I particularly value are the updates about what's going on at the womags - whether waiting times have increased, which story lengths are needed, whether a mag is switching to all rights, that sort of thing. I'm not so interested in the competitions, but that's mostly because I'm not UK-based, and if I enter a comp, it's much more likely to be an Australian one.

I don't have any suggestions to add to the ones made above, but echo Jenny's question: how can we help take pressure off you?

Patsy said...

@ Jenny – I do very much welcome people sharing information, details of competitions, etc in the comments. I thought that was clear, but maybe it's a case of it being so obvious to me I haven't actually said it?

I've tried putting less detail and just links to competitions, but then people message me pointing out there are entry restrictions or something like that and asking me to put that in the post.

The ways people can help are - to share information with me (either contacting me directly or putting it in the comments), to leave comments so I know whether or not particular subjects are of interest, to ask any questions as comments on the blog, not via social media, email etc. That's because others might then be able to help with the answers, and those answers might help other blog readers.

@ Sharon – Appropriate blog posts have always been welcome. Again it seems that isn't as clear as I thought.

I like the idea of sharing hints and tips, asking for help, answering questions etc. Those are the kind of things I hoped would result from the 'over to you' posts. I'll have a rethink about those and see if I can do more to encourage people to participate.

@ Alyson – I'm very grateful to you for passing on competition details (and to others who do this). You've told me about ones I'd never have heard of and so wouldn't have been able to share.

Your regular contributions also make me feel more like this is a team effort, rather than something I'm doing by myself. As do everyone's comments.

@ Alex – Keeping it simple is probably key!

@ Sheelagh – I don't want to stop the blog. Hopefully we can find a way to keep it useful, without taking up too much time.

Not responding to comments would save me time – but I'd feel mean doing that when people have taken the time and trouble to comment. Ah, there's another way people can help – respond to other people's comments and questions – as some of you already do.

@ Liz – The things such as womag waiting times, type of stories editors are looking for, changes in terms etc were on of the things I most valued when I was a reader of this blog and one of the main reasons I took over (years ago now!) when Kath couldn't continue. Unfortunately it's not information I can provide on my own – I don't submit to every magazine, and for things such as average response times one person's experiences aren't particularly helpful. That's why I ask people to share such information. I do regularly ask for this in the 'over to you' posts so another way people can help is to share that kind of information in the comments.

Marguerite said...

Welcome back! I appreciate the helpful advice and support from you and others this blog provides. I recognise the time it takes for you to collect, co-ordinate and prepare a post, bearing in mind how extensive its range. As already mentioned above, I would miss this…so… where to go with reducing the time spent on it…
Random thoughts, sorry some duplicated. See it as a ‘hub’ others to contribute comps and/or sub opportunities. In one respect, that needs no moderation as it would be down to us to pursue as appropriate.
Suggestions/ideas/tips for all via, maybe, as already mentioned, personal experiences in particular genres, way of working, magazines, comps, expertise – what has worked well and not so well. Maybe a blog post to rally ‘volunteers’ for a post. Don’t know how this would work – ‘comments’ section probably not the best but otherwise it might be you, Patsy, coordinating and uploading? It would cut down your input in preparation? And yes, maybe less often – weekly must be a high maintenance commitment.
I, too, have appreciated you individual comments, but I don’t think you should feel you are obliged to.
Signing off with continued thanks for all you do :)

Fiona said...

Welcome back Patsy! I can understand the time and commitment that the blog must take so hope that you can come up with plans that take the pressure off you but allow it to continue. I’ve really benefited from your free competition and submission info - I’ve a poem coming out with Sylvia in January and pretty sure that I submitted after reading about it here, so thanks!

Diane Wordsworth said...

I'd suggest having co-bloggers rather than guest bloggers, fellow writers you trust with blogging/admin rights. Then all take it in turns to post a blog on a weekly cycle perhaps. There are a few around, such as the word wenches, who do this. (https://wordwenches.typepad.com/word_wenches/)

Eirin Thompson said...

Patsy, I share the feelings stated above: ie. I love the blog and would miss it very much were it to go, while also recognising that you need to maximise your personal writing time and time to have a life! Would it be possible to tweak the nature of the blog to make it more of a writing/womag community notice-board, to which everyone can contribute? Some people might have news of competitions, while others might have tips or suggestions? Would this release you to maintain the data base which is so valuable, especially to new writers? And would it take some pressure off if new posts were fortnightly instead of weekly, or would the amount of work be just the same? It strikes me that this is a good time to make any changes, so that you can go into 2023 feeling freed up to do the creative stuff. Best wishes.

Patsy said...

@ Marguerite – The hub idea sounds great, but I don't know how people could do the things you suggest except in the comments, or by emailing it to me – and if they do the latter it would involve quite a lot of time compiling it all. Even when people write entire guest posts there's time involved uploading it, tweaking the formatting, adding links and putting the pictures in. Having multiple contributors would make it much more complicated.

@ Fiona – Well done for the poetry acceptance. Hearing how the blog has benefitted people makes the time spent compiling it seem worthwhile.

@ Diane – Good idea - if people are willing to volunteer.

@ Eirin – I've always hoped that people would use the blog to share information, tips etc. I set up the 'over to you' posts to encourage that, but perhaps I've not made it clear enough how much I welcome such comments?

Diane Wordsworth said...

I wouldn't want to volunteer anyone without first running it by them, but perhaps you could write a blog post asking who would like or be able to help out. (Did Kath do something similar all those years ago?)

I'd suggest more than one co-blogger, but they could specialise, for example in market information or (free to enter) competitions or legal information or latest news or writing pocket novels or grammar & punctuation or publishing an anthology or [enter specialism of choice here], and you could have hotlinks for people to contact them directly in the sidebars, along with brief bios or on a contacts page.

I do think they would need to be recognised experts in the womag field, though, already respected and unafraid to hold their hand up and be counted if necessary.

New girl on the block said...

So many ideas here, and I probably have nothing new to add. The blog is such a great resource, not only for the information you provide, but also for the sense of community. Writing can be quite an isolated occupation. So, yes, I would agree that you could:
- reduce frequency of the blog
- persuade people to do more guest posts
- don't feel obliged to reply to every post
- we should definitely take responsibility for replying to questions if we can

I love the competition info, so thanks to everybody who passes this on. I've entered the Sylvia menstruation competition!

Carrie said...

Welcome back, Patsy! And I echo all that has been said above - this blog is invaluable and I know I'd miss it if you stopped. But I do recognise that it is a lot of work. You've had plenty of good ideas above, so hopefully you can incorporate some of them to take some of the pressure of your shoulders so that, as Eirin said, you can enter 2023 with a lighter load.

Sheelagh said...

Patsy, have downloaded your book but haven't had time to read yet but its on my Christmas list as is Eirin's Closing In, looking forward to lots of reading time by nice big roaring log fires.

Patsy said...

@ Diane – I like your optimism, but I'll be very surprised if anyone would be willing to take all that on!

@ New Girl – The time factor is more of a problem when I'm away (when I have time I often can't get online or don't have power as we sometimes stay in quite remote places) so I'll probably have fewer posts and not be so concerned about replying individually to each comment on those occasions.

@ Carrie – I'll only stop the blog if I can't keep it reasonably up to date and useful – so the more people share information in the comments the more likely it is to keep going.

@ Sheelagh – Reading by a log fire sounds idyllic.

Perplexed Bystander said...

I am new to your blog but I've been trying to think of things I can do to boost my pension (yes I am an oldster). I guess getting stuck in and trying is the best way to go and not to expect miracles overnight. Thank you for providing your helpful hints.

Maggie Cobbett said...

Please keep going, Patsy. I very much appreciate your blog and will try to comment more often in the future.

Patsy said...

@ Perplexed - getting stuck in and having a go sounds very much like the right approach.

@ Maggie – I'm going to keep going for now, posting just twice a month. If the comments keep coming then so will the posts.