Monday, 10 January 2011

Progress (and a dilemma)

After a slow December I've sprinted into January by submitting five stories in a week. Only one is a totally new story, but as I mentioned in a previous post, that unfinished and rejected drawer had been lying dormant for some time. Now I'm in a fit of sorting, sending and shredding, and it feels good. I am never optimistic when I send off a story. I just reach a point when I know I've given it my best shot and further rewriting will only bring stagnation rather than improvement.

It's heartening to hear that even writers who are well established in their field still have doubts about their work. I found lots I could relate to in Teresa Ashby's recent post 'What Do I Do? The Uncertainty of Being a Writer'. I particularly like the bit where Teresa talks about every piece of writing being a new beginning. Certainly every time I start a story, I have no idea of how I'm going to tell it. Often I don't know what will happen or how it will end. The only way I find out is by continuing to put one sentence after another until the story becomes clear to me. I think curiosity is an important factor when I'm writing. After all, if I am not curious about what happens to my characters, then why should anyone else be?

On a different note, I have a balloon dilemma. We all know that it's unlucky to leave our Christmas decorations up later than the sixth of January, don't we. This is not an unfounded superstition. I noticed last Friday (January the seventh) that several households in Coronation Street and Eastenders still had their Christmas trees up - and see how much bad luck they get.

This Christmas I bought one of those foil ballons, which the party shop inflated for me. The lady behind the counter assured me that if I let the balloon down carefully by putting a drinking straw into the valve, I could have the balloon re-inflated next December. Well, last Wednesday I stuck a straw in as she told me. I expected the balloon would go flat fairly quickly. Five days later it's still on the ceiling. Now I know some of you will probably tell me to stab it with a pin. But that seems somehow... cruel. So if anyone has a tip for letting my balloon down gently, then I'd love to hear from you.

Hope 2011 is being kind to you so far.


Old Kitty said...

GOOD LUCK with your storeis!!! Wow!!! 5 submissions in one week!! I am in AWE!!

I love what you say about how if you as the writer isn't curious about your characters then why should anyone else be? I really like this thought!

I kept my tree and all the trimmings up until the 6th!!! I felt quite sad when I took all the frippery down!! Nevermind!

Oooh I have no idea for the balloon. Maybe it'll soon deflate on its own accord? I hope so! Take care

Morton S Gray said...

Those balloons can haunt you! I had one once that we put up the loft and it was still inflated 8 years later. Advice - stick a pin in it!

Good luck with stories! Mx

Laura Wilkinson said...

Five submissions – well done you! I’m impressed. It’s so true what you say about uncertainty and doubt. I’m suffering a bad dose of it at the moment, along with a dose of this vile lurgy that EVERYONE seems to have had. I’m hoping that once my health is restored I’ll get fingers to keyboard for something other than blogging or twitter. Fun as they are. Happy New Year.

joanne fox said...

8 years for a balloon Morton?! Good value for money I guess!

Hope you feel better in every way soon Laura.

Kitty, it is a bit sad to take the dec's down isn't it. I think my balloon agrees with that too.

bazza said...

Hello Joanne, I think we can all clearly see what your New Year resolution was!
So. You don't plot every intricate detail of a story before you begin? As a non-writer I am shocked! It always amuses me when I hear an author say that he or she doesn't know how the characters will behave until they tell him.
Bazza’s Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

joanne fox said...

Bazza, it's more a case of carving out the story as I go along - rather like getting the answers to your quiz questions!

Teresa Ashby said...

Five submissions is brilliant, Joanne!
Thanks for linking to me.
You've made a very good point about plotting. I prefer to find out what happens as I go along too, as you say, keeps the curiosity going!
Re the balloon - you could try sucking the air out and you'd get to talk in a funny voice as well :-)

joanne fox said...

Teresa, if I tried to suck out the air I'd probably faint! It's still on the ceiling, and hasn't gone down at all!

HelenMHunt said...

Five stories in a week is good going. Good luck with them all.

joanne fox said...

Thanks Helen. It's good to have a few more stories out there, though I know I can't continue at this pace for long. There's only so much in my rejects drawer that I can tinker with, then I must start producing more new stories. Hoping to be lucky with at least one of those subs though.

penandpaints said...

Five subs is great, well done and best of luck for those!
As for the balloon, I don't really have any suggestions, but I applaud you for not popping it!

L'Aussie said...

Ha Ha. How is that balloon going?

Five stories in a week, wow. Good luck! I finally got one accepted in a great mag recently so am polishing some more to send while the editor is still thinking nice thoughts.

Thanks for responding to my 'disaster' post. I came through unscathed and the waters are going down now. Lots of heartache ahead though as people are being found and added to the death toll.

I have started a Publication Party for aspiring writers. Perhaps you could drop by and share a few thoughts with us in the comments. Would love to have you! Helen Hunt is on the list as I admire her journey to publication of her short stories. Wouldn't mind some of that!


joanne fox said...

Glad to hear that water levels are going down there Denise. We've been seeing lots about the floods on the news.

Well done on your recent acceptance - how exciting! I will pop into the party later. x

brokenbiro said...

I've never had one of those balloons 8-(
But if I had, I might try and change it from a Christmas one to another theme by the addition of extraneous titivations... then you could keep it up all year / decade!

joanne fox said...

That's a good suggestion BB. It could become an all purpose balloon, for birthdays, anniversaries, and story publications ;-)

Joanna said...

Five stories in a week is brilliant. Massively satisfying and just shows what can be done when we really set our minds to it.

My daughter's balloon is still inflated after two years, bobbing and waving at me like a lost soul from the chaos of her bedroom every time I venture inside.

joanne fox said...

Oh I've slowed right down again now Joanna!

The ironic thing re the balloon is that, about a week before Christmas, I said to someone at work that I was going to the party shop on my way home. She told me to leave it as near to Christmas as I could before buying a balloon, because they go down really quickly! 4 weeks later...