Wednesday, 1 January 2014

A New Year - a new start...

It was with enormous sadness that I made the decision to leave Greenacre Writers, the writers’ group I had co-founded and co-organised for almost five years.

The last two years have been a challenge; although I was determined not to let a diagnosis of thyroid cancer in 2012 change my life, it has inevitably had an impact on my energy and that has had an dampening effect on my writing creativity. Perhaps if I wasn’t working virtually full time and wasn’t busy co-organising three thriving writing groups, an annual short story competition, editing an anthology and helping organise a small literary festival, I’d have written a block-buster or a Booker prize winner by now. Although I suspect not.

I carried on as best I could – I took part in the first Greenacre Mini Lit fest, wondering what my consultant would be telling me the following Monday - whether the biopsy a couple of weeks earlier would prove what we suspected. It did. 

I was able to carry out my commitment to run a course for beginners at Swanwick Writers Summer School in between the two operations. My brilliant surgeon actually scheduled a special operating list so I wouldn’t have to miss it or cancel the holiday booked for two weeks later. I recovered from the op on a wonderful holiday in Tanzania with a trip to Zanzibar where I found a place perfect for writing – in theory anyway. I didn’t actually write anything.

Last January, in a bid to make myself write, I signed up to Write One Sub One – I chose the cushier option of one a month and have been true to my aim. I made 20 submissions altogether, from the smallest – a 75 word flash to a fairly big competition.
Now here comes the hard part. What became of my submissions? Very little, I’m afraid.  2013 started off on a high with an email saying a piece I had submitted to Café Lit had been selected for The Best of Cafe Lit 2012 and a few days later I received a prize from Writing Magazine for a flash fiction competition, but my 2013 submissions fared less well. My first, a short story, was shortlisted in the Chudleigh Phoenix competition but the next nine came to nothing. One of my stories, Chocolate in Summer, was included Greenacre Writers Anthology Vol 2 but after all, I was a co-editor! I had a flash fiction shortlisted in Flash 500 and a 75 worder published on Paragraph Planet inspired by my two weeks of jury service in June. 

I did manage a bit of writing while hanging around in the jurors' lounge waiting to be called into court and thought my creativity was on the up. But the scans the week before the second Greenacre Writers Lit Fest the previous month indicated all was not well which led to my second round of radio-active iodine the week after jury service. My energy plummeted to zero again. A 100 word flash was accepted by Café Lit then - nothing. The last four submissions are still under consideration so fingers crossed.

Only the flash fiction pieces and one short story have been written in the last year. In spite of meeting submission deadlines my writing has been limited because of lack of energy (a normal outcome of my condition and the radio-treatment.) Stress of any kind now zaps me out so I had to do something drastic. And sadly, because of other issues, one of the things I have had to let go is Greenacre Writers.

I have met some wonderful writers through the groups and the two lit fests, made many friends, and my writing has (I think) improved so now I have to get down to it and prove it.
I wish you all a very happy  New Year - and great writing success.