This week, CWC member Maureen Boon tells us about the effect of lockdown on her writing life and how she’s used the time to take a different direction.
“Shortly before the lockdown, I visited four local schools around World Book Day. Using my two children’s books, Ant’s Awesome Adventure and Bearly Believable, I carried out storytelling and writing workshops with children from reception to Year 6. It was a very encouraging experience with good feedback from the children. I finished a Bearly Believable Colouring Book with local artist Deirdre Stewart, who I had met during the Joint Arts Project. Next I ordered copies of all my books, for a publicity campaign going round the holiday venues, to ask them to market my books.
Then Covid 19 struck! I have sold very few books and my marketing strategy was stopped before it even started.
I felt like giving up writing altogether.
Then, Chudleigh Writers’ Circle held a Zoom meeting with Gail Aldwin on 18th of May on Flash Fiction. For one of her exercises, I wrote Recipe for a Perfect Lockdown Walk.
Following her session, I thought I would give Flash Fiction and short stories a go (before finally giving up writing!). I have written no Flash Fiction and very few short stories in the past, so this was a new venture for me.
I am a member of the National Association of Writers in Education (NAWE) and every week they publish The Writer’s Compass, an E-bulletin highlighting: jobs, courses and competitions for writers; this was a great source. Also, Elizabeth Ducie had emailed us about the NYC Midnight 100-word Microfiction Challenge 2020. You had to write up to 100 words in twenty-four hours having been given a genre (in my case ‘Historical fiction’), word (surprise) and action (locking a door).
I did this challenge first but I found the mechanics of it all a bit confusing. When the feedback from the first round was sent to me, the judge’s comments were very positive, but I had been disqualified for using the wrong word! I was furious and wrote a long email of complaint. In the end, it turned out I had entered it for the wrong ‘Historical fiction’ group which had a different allocated word. My advice to myself is, ‘read the small print!’
One of my next entries was for the Lockdown 2020 Prize. I entered my Recipe for a Perfect Lockdown Walk (somewhat revised) into the Pocket Prose category. I was delighted to be shortlisted and published on the Fish Publishing website.
I have entered many competitions during lockdown and I am finding that my writing is improving, as I reread and rewrite my stories. My advice would be to keep lists of the competitions you have entered and which stories you have submitted. Some competitions will not accept a story submitted to another contest.
Most importantly, I have rediscovered my joy of writing!”