In ‘Replenishing My Writing Stocks’, I said I was taking a break from submitting my stories to competitions/publications. Yeah…that might change.
I was delighted to be shortlisted in the Fish Publishing Short Story Competition last week! There were 58 in the shortlist, out of 1631 entries. And then I saw that the other story I submitted also made it onto the 218-story longlist.
The two stories were part of my MA dissertation and were directly inspired by my time in Cornwall. They are special to me because of the time and emotion I poured into them and because they remind me of that significant time in my life. It’s lovely that other people liked them too.
The shortlisted one was submitted on a whim, with no expectations – clearly ‘whim’ sometimes knows better than ‘reason’! The story is humorous and light-hearted in tone (on the surface, anyway), so I didn’t think it would be noticed; I’m incredibly happy to be proved wrong.
It’s amazing how life changes, even without Covid in the equation. Playing my trombone (which I nicknamed Gwendolyn!) was a huge part of my life for so many years; I never thought a day would come when it wasn’t anymore. I have numerous amazing memories of practising, rehearsing, performing, teaching, and conducting – some of these are covered in my Conducting Experience and Menai Bridge Band posts.
On Tuesday I picked up my trombone for the first time in about a year. ‘Gwendolyn’ could do with a bath…and I’d have washed the mouthpiece if I’d known she’d be put away for so long! Oh well.
I enjoyed reminding myself how to breathe properly and how grounding it is to play a wind instrument – it feels as if every part of your body, mind and soul is involved. It was natural, nostalgic, and a little bit sad.
One of my friends asked this question on Facebook: ‘What are you most looking forward to being able to do, once it’s safe to do so – hugging/visiting loved ones obviously – but I mean an activity you miss the most?’
I found it difficult to answer. What DO I want to do?
It’s almost as if I’m struggling to remember what life was like pre-Covid. I can remember if I try, of course, but I think I’ve deliberately put out of my mind anything that I can’t currently do so that I don’t feel the lack or loss. I’ve tried to focus on the things I can do, like reading, writing, taking a daily walk, occasionally walking with a friend to catch up, and eating a lot. Those things make me happy and content. As I like to say, for someone who’s hard to please, I’m very easy to please.
It’s hard not being able to see family and friends; that’s a universal struggle. It’s what I think about the most. I want to hug my dad, pop round to my friend’s when one of us is having a bad day, visit my brothers etc. It was also horrible that I couldn’t be with my great aunt when she passed away or go to her funeral this afternoon. These things eclipse everything else.
But anyway, back to the question about ‘activities’…
Why do so many people enjoy writing first drafts? Yes, it’s exciting when the words flow. I appreciate flashes of inspiration, shiny new ideas, and riding on the waves of creativity, blah blah blah. It’s not always like that for me though.
Most of the time, a first draft means squelching through the land of This Is the Worst Thing Written by Anyone Ever. Yes, squelching. Trudging, plodding, slogging, until I reach the land of Editing, where everything starts to make sense.
‘Just get it down on the page,’ they say. It sounds like a great idea, but I’m terrible at it, because…