I’ve just written a very short biog piece and tightened and updated my notes on how to get stories published (there’s always room for more editing). All in readiness for my first-ever stint at a literary festival in June, where I will be part of a panel of experts on writing (ahem) and will also be critiquing and talking through a selection of stories previously sent to me for my opinion. Talk about out of my comfort zone (or CZ)! Well out.
In fact, ever since I reluctantly took redundancy last year, I have been pushed out of my comfortable and cushioned CZ in ways I would never have expected. I was definitely cocooned while nestled in the Fiction Dept of Woman’s Weekly for 29 years. I had found my niche, or my “happy place” as they say these days and I never stopped feeling grateful. But pressures of work and the stresses of commuting, horribly early starts (I had two alarm clocks at one point), not to mention lugging bagsful of books and manuscripts back and forth between the office and my home, meant that I didn’t always make the most of any invitations that came my way and, if I regret anything, it is that I could have enjoyed that side of my job a lot more, with the added benefit of expanding my contacts. (My other regret is that I didn’t start my pension much, much sooner – only about halfway through my working life, when I had a promotion. There is no doubt that I am going to be poor!)
Well, I’m certainly making up for all that now. I have no excuses for no time any more. I’ve written blogs for a writers’ website, given a talk on how to write stories for magazines to a writers’ group I now belong to and been to a book launch lunch – any more out there?! I’ve critiqued stories for writer friends for free and have started to do a bit of my own writing – still very much a work in progress. I take my hat off to writers everywhere. I don’t know how you all do it but, as I used to say when I was working, I’m very glad you do, or I’d be out of a job! There were many hair-raising times when we realised we didn’t have any stories for an upcoming issue but somehow we always managed to find something, often at the eleventh hour.
And now – eek – the festival and the most important thing of all: Is it possible to lose three stone between now and June?!