Loch Awe in spring - Photo courtesy of Neil Donald Photography






Wednesday, 14 November 2012

JILL OF ALL TRADES.....

...and mistress of some of them, I hope. For trades, read writing.
When I'm introduced to someone new and tell them I'm a writer the inevitable question is 'What do you write?'
Well.....all sorts is the answer.
My first ever published piece was a little poem which I sent to People's Friend. It was about my then 8 year old son going to Cub Scout camp and was a cross between a Limerick and doggerel. But PF liked it and they illustrated it cartoon style. They paid me £10 for it which was quite a sum way back then for just twelve lines.
But looking at it now I can see it was truly awful so you'll all be relieved to know that's the end of my career in writing poetry!
My foray into short story writing came about because of my increasing deafness (fairly well-documented here and elsewhere). For this blog post I looked up my old records. Some months I would send out ten or so stories and sometimes none of those would sell at all. Another month might see five or six sales, then a fallow period. So in the fallow periods I decided to have a shot at writing articles.
My Weekly liked a couple of ideas - a feature about my cochlear implant and another about the threat of plastic bags on the invironment. they paid me very nicely for those along with some high res photos. I had similar pieces in local newspapers but nothing in the nationals. Yet!
My daughter-in-law, Elisabeth Hadley, is a sculptor. Like all artists, she was having a fallow period, too, just as short story sales dried up a bit for me. She asked if I would write something about her and her work for Devon Life. Well, I'd never written a feature on an artist in my life but I bought a copy of the publication and wrote something to what was obviously Devon Life's house style. My son lugged about half a dozen of Elisabeth's nude bronzes down to the beach and took some very arty photos of them with little frilly waves creeping up to their toes. I decided to be cheeky and I offered the article and photos to Devon Life for nowt if they liked it. Well, don't we all like a freebie? Devon Life was no exception. After that article was published two artists got in touch with me to ask if I would do the same for them. Not for free I wouldn't. So again, I got cheeky and asked Devon Life if they would pay me for these two art features. They would. And so began a couple of very happy years going around to art exhibitions and going to artists' houses and studios to interview them. I racked up about 70 features for Devon Life, Cornwall Life, Somerset Life and Dorset Life. I even interviewed a glass blower/engraver who made all the glassware for the first Harry Potter film.
I began to get commissions to write beauty and lifestyle features.I got sent to gyms and health spas and had my feet and my nails and my body primped to within an inch of its life for said features. But while they were fun, I'm a soap and water, shampoo, a slap of Olay on my cheeks, and a dab of lipstick sort of woman really.
And then the recession hit and Archant Life (which owns all these Life publications) stopped taking work from freelance writers and did it all in-house.
But that was all right because short stories started taking off again. I gained some new markets in Scandinavia and Australia and that kept me busy - and still does.
Why not write a novel? more than a few asked me. So I had a go at that - well, seven goes actually before Choc Lit took me on. All has been heavily documented here and elsewhere...:)
So, that's a few writing things that I do. Then there are guest blogs. And my own blog. And this blog. Some reviewers interviewed not me but the characters in TO TURN FULL CIRCLE (see, I've managed to name-drop at last!). Do Facebook messages count as writing? I could argue that they do because don't we all try and spell things correctly and put in the correct punctuation and make those post interesting and fun or very informative? Ditto Twitter where we have to hone the thing right down to 140 characters or whatever.
So, enough about me......but I think if we write we can write all sorts.
What does anyone esle do to pay the bills?
And to sign off here's a picture of Elisabeth's beautiful mermaid statue.


25 comments:

  1. Fascinating post, Linda. Sometimes we forget that 'real' writers have found success by sheer hard work. For me, To Turn Full Circle was a joy to read and I can't wait for the sequel!

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  2. Thank you so much for this Guernsey Girl....I'm doing my best for you - sequel sitting on publisher's desk right now!

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  3. This was a great post. I feel like a writer who does just about everything at the moment. Working on three novels, but always going back to writing short stories for competitions. Can I ask how you went about selling short stories? I was hoping to write a collection of them and make them into a nook, but have no idea about the market for this kind of thing.
    Thanks for the great post! Truly inspiring! :) x

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    1. Thanks for the comment, Sorcha. Short stories? Buy the mags you think your stories would be good for. Offhand, the mags that take unsolicited submissions in the UK are Woman's Weekly, Take a Break's Fiction Feast, People's Friend, and The Weekly News which is a newspaper. Look on the websites of all of them as to length and then have a go! Waterstones carries a display of short story anthologies....might be worth looking in there to see who the publishers are. Good luck!

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  4. What a fascinating post, Linda. And it just goes to show how we make our own luck. Cochlear implant? Write about it. Struggling artist in the family? Write about her too. From the writing seeds you scattered, Linda, so much has grown and flourished.

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    1. Thanks, Chris....it was sink or swim at times for me and I needed arm floats to swim but I'm getting there...:)

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  5. Fascinating post, Linda. It reminded me how like magpies we writers are: we spy that precious little nugget glinting in the distance, swoop down, and carry it off home where we'll hone it, chip away at it, cherish it, and truly make it our own. (Even if it did originally belong to someone else, but obviously I mean that in the nicest possible sense...). We just can't help it!

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    1. And wouldn't you know it, Henriette, the magpie is my favourite bird....yes really....:)

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  6. I loved hearing about your journey, Linda (since I write in various fields) - fascinating how it progressed. And that's a beautiful statue!

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    1. Yes, Elisabeth's work is stunning....so glad you like it.

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  7. Wow, Linda, I'm in awe! I've only ever written novels, novellas and short stories - don't think I'd be very good at articles. But I guess you never know unless you try and you certainly did that. Respect!

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    1. Thanks, Christina. I find being able to write fiction really helped me get the flow of a feature or article. And the people I met and things I saw when doing features and articles also informed some of my fiction....win, win at times!

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  8. What a versatile writer you are Linda, and a hard worker. I love the photo of the statue. What are your grandchildren going to do with so much talent in their genes? Congratulations.

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    1. Thanks, Gwen. My grandchildren only have my genes.....not the sculpting ones - Elisabeth is my daughter-in-law. The mermaid is on a private quay on the River Dart, a few yards the land side of Dartmouth castle and easily seen by passing boats - and the occasional seal.

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  9. I love the mermaid. And am so impressed by the breadth of your writing experience Linda. Respect!

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    1. Thanks, Gill....I'm a plodder really and also curious which makes me want to try new things.

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  10. Really interesting post, Linda. I think of you first and foremost as a novelist so I've enjoyed reading more about your writing journey. I'm very impressed by your short story output. Love Elizabeth's mermaid.

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    1. Yes, Mary.....you met me first as a novelist but all the other things were leading up to that -a looooong journey!
      I'll tell Elisabeth how much you all like her work. She does smaller things, too.

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  11. So fascinating Linda - and of course, beautifully written too, LOL. Others have said it - but awe! That's what I'm presently feeling. I loved To Turn Full Circle - and can't wait to read the next. X

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    1. Lovely to see you pop up here, Sarah......and thanks for kind comments on TTFC.

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  12. A lovely, inspirational post, Linda, had me smiling all the way through. Writing articles for all those talented artists must’ve been such a wonderful experience (your DIL’s sculptures are absolutely amazing). I loved reading about your writing journey, and I’m very much looking forward to reading To Turn Full Circle....oh, and btw, Olay rocks ;)

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  13. Olay rocks! Love that comment! Thanks for passing by, Kelly - hugely appreciated.

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  14. Thanks for this post, Linda. I knew about some of your talent, but didn't have the full CV. I guess mine isn't so very different, when I come to think of it - lots of journalism, one or two short stories, a number of books here and there. When you write, you write. Anyway, can't wait for the next book in your series. I can see where it's going, but I'm sure there will be a few more surprises for me before it gets there!

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    1. I posted this because more than a few non-published writers have told me they love to know how those who do make it, well, got there. I see we had some new visitors to the blog this time, so a bit more FB and Twitter exposure is good...:) Glad you like Elisabeth's sculpture - she's weathering beautifully....well, they both are!

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  15. PS, I should have said, I love the sculpture! So evocative and beautiful...

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