I’d like to introduce you all to Wendy Clarke. Wendy has written and had lots of short stories published in various magazines. I invited her to write a guest post for my blog.
When I tell people that I write short stories for magazines, there are three things they always want to know: what made me start writing, why I chose magazines and where I get my ideas from. I’ll start my post by answering these questions.
Unlike many magazine writers, I started writing later in life. Despite loving creative writing at school, and enjoying teaching it in the classroom, it had never occurred to me that I might one day make it my career. It took an unfortunate event (the closing down of the school where I taught) and an online writing course, to show me my new path.
It was my course tutor who suggested I try submitting some stories to magazines. The course had just finished and, feeling bereft at not having a weekly piece of writing to submit, I decided to give it a go. At first, I had the expected rejections but I didn’t let it put me off. I carried on writing and I carried on submitting then, three months later, I had a letter from the People’s Friend saying they liked one of my stories… hurray! This was followed by a sale to Take a Break Fiction Feast and Woman’s Weekly.
That was the start and, four years on, I’m still writing for them all and have had around two hundred stories and two serials published. I still find it hard to believe!
Moving on to where I get my ideas… I get them everywhere. My friends will tell you that we’ll be having a conversation and I’ll suddenly shout, “Wait! I have to write that down!” This will be followed by a frantic scrabbling for my notebook. I get ideas from conversations, newspaper articles, things I’ve seen, memories, poems… even meeting Mary Berry. The list is endless. At present, I have around thirty ideas in my notebook I haven’t used yet.
Despite my notebook, there are sometimes frustrating times when I can’t think what to write or just don’t feel in the mood. If this happens, I don’t try and force it. Instead, I’m kind to myself and allow myself to have a couple of days off from writing. This helps to recharge my batteries and fill up the writing well again.
So why do I love writing short stories? For a start, I love that there are so many different people’s heads I can be in, so many places I can visit and so many adventures I can have. One day, I might be a twenty-year old girl on holiday in Greece and the next a male taxi driver picking up a fare in London. It’s never boring! I also like the excitement of making a sale and seeing the story in print (often with a lovely illustration). A selection of my published magazine stories can be found in my collection, The Last Rose.
If I have any advice for a new writer hoping to break into the market it would be this:
- Write the best you can
- Study the market but write what you would like to read
- Grow a thick skin (believe me, you will be rejected!)
- Don’t give up
- Write for love, not money
Which leads me to my final point. Enjoy your writing… if there’s not pleasure in it, there’s little point in doing it!
About Wendy Clarke
Wendy lives in West Sussex with her husband, cat and badly behaved dog. She has written around two hundred stories and two serials for national women’s magazines and is a regular fiction writer for The People’s Friend. She has also written several articles for Writing Magazine. Wendy is a member of the RNA NWS and has just finished her first novel. She has published two collections of short stories, Room in Your Heart and The Last Rose.
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/wendy.sargent.376
Twitter – @WendyClarke99