Blog Guest: Wendy Clarke

One of the great pleasures of writing is meeting other writers and I’m always curious about how they work. Today I’m welcoming Wendy Clarke to find how she goes about creating her fabulous stories.

Wendy Clarke

I’m always fascinated by how other writers work because everyone has their own way of working. Are you a plotter or do you just start off and see where the story takes you?

When it comes to short stories, I am definitely not a plotter. I start with just the seed of an idea – a snippet of conversation, a line of a poem, a memory maybe. Once I have that starting point, I sit down and start to write. I write from all perspectives – male, female, young and old and I find that a character will just pop into my head and say, ‘This is my story’. Once I’ve got a decent amount of the story written, I usually take my dog for a walk and that’s where my missing story pieces are found and where all the strands come together. Writing the end is then simple. During the process, there’s not a single note or plan in sight.

Do you ever write yourself into a corner and have to scrap work and find another way?

No, I don’t think this has ever happened to me. Every one of the two hundred or so stories I’ve started have been completed. On the odd occasion when things don’t seem to be working, I usually just try the out in a different tense and that seems to do the trick.

How many drafts of a story do you do?

One only. I edit as I go along then, when my husband comes home, I get him to proof read it for me. I rarely change anything plot or structure wise once the story is written.

Which do you prefer first draft or editing and why?

Oh, the writing of the story, definitely. Especially if it’s a story that just flows and I can lose myself in it. Editing is just a chore!

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve been given?

Personally, the best piece of writing advice I was given was by my tutor, Anne Hamilton, from the online course Writing Classes. It was she who advised me to send some of my stories to the women’s magazines. If I hadn’t, I’d never (five years on) be doing what I am now and my three story collections (all stories previously published in national magazines) would never have been written. Without that advice, it’s possible I might not have carried on writing after the course had ended.

Do you think you’d be the writer you are now if you’d started writing earlier? How has your life experience contributed to your success?

Like a lot of writers, I really wish I’d started writing earlier. That way I could have taken advantage of the many magazines that still accepted fiction – now there are so few to submit to. The problem was, I didn’t even think about writing until after the school I was teaching in closed down and I was made redundant. The writing course was suggested to me by my brother. If he hadn’t mentioned it, I don’t know what I would be doing now. Probably not writing and I certainly wouldn’t have written two novels.

Short sharp answers

Favourite film?

The Italian film, Life is Beautiful. It’s both funny and desperately sad.
Tea or coffee?

Am I allowed to say both?
You are given a travel ticket to anywhere, where will it be?

That’s easy. It would have to be a Greek island. Each year, my husband and I find a new one to visit. We just love the slow pace of life, the food and the scenery.

Advice to your teenage self.

Don’t be afraid to push yourself forward. No one else will do it for you.

Thank you, Wendy, for explaining how you write your stories, and as a planner I am in awe of your ability to work without planning them first!

To find out more about Wendy and her work you can visit her excellent blog wendyswritingnow.blogspot.co.uk or find her stories in national women’s magazines such as The People’s Friend, Take a Break Fiction Feast and Woman’s Weekly

Wendy has published three collections of short stories, Room in Your Heart, The Last Rose and most recently Silent Night and has just finished writing her second novel.

Silent Night - kindle cover

Follow Wendy on Facebook here  or on Twitter here. Her books are available on Amazon here

Summer holiday

It’s a grey, rainy October day and I have neglected my blog for too long over a busy summer.

August started with a trip to the spectacular Isle of Mull, first going down to London then catching the Caledonian Sleeper train for an overnight journey to Glasgow.

Then another train to Oban and finally the ferry across to Mull.

I’ve wanted to visit Mull for a long time and it didn’t disappoint. It is stunningly beautiful and has wonderful wildlife. I was extremely lucky to spend an hour watching three otters fishing, grooming and playing and saw magnificent sea eagles many times.

I also visited Iona which is a ten minute ferry ride off the south west tip of Mull, and which is breathtakingly beautiful with white sand and clear waters more like a Caribbean island. Even its rocks are lovely.

 

A week wasn’t long enough to spend on Mull and I hope I’ll return one day.

Then it was home again and back to work doing the edits of ‘Secrets of the East End Angels’ and starting book three of the series.

RNA Conference

I’m back from a weekend of lots of talking, laughing and learning at the annual RNA conference at Harper Adams university in Shropshire. It was great to catch up with friends and make new ones.

The talks and workshops were excellent and I’ve come home with my brain fizzing with information from learning how to build characters by digging deep down into their make up at Fiona Harper’s brilliant talk, to how to better revise and edit my work.

The Harper Adams campus was lovely with sheep grazing, swallows and house-martins flitting overhead, their mud nests full of chicks under the eaves and cawing flocks of jackdaws going to roost in the trees in the evening. 

Thank you to the magnificent Jan Jones for her supreme organisation and to all those who helped and gave talks and workshops to make it such a fantastic conference.

 

Thanks to John Jackson for the photo of Wendy Clarke and me at the Gala Dinner.

I’m used to being by the sea and missed it while I was away, so it was wonderful to catch sight of it again near the end of the long train journey home.

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The East End Angels have arrived!

There was much excitement and dancing around with delight when the postman delivered my first copy of the hardback edition of ‘East End Angels’.

east end angels cover 1

It is utterly gorgeous and I love how they’ve designed it with the characters named on the back cover.

east end angels cover 2

My publishers have been brilliant involving me with the cover from choosing the right models to represent the characters to feeding back on different designs.