When I first started seriously thinking about trying to become a writer, I went to a Novel Writers event at Spike Island in Bristol. This event featured Kit de Waal talking about her debut novel My Name is Leon, and was a wonderful introduction to the world of writing, and in particular becoming a fiction author. The event was a conversation between de Waal and Nikesh Shukla (read about the evening here) where they talked about the craft of writing novels, short stories and flash fiction.
This lit a flame within me, and was the catalyst I needed to start writing a short story myself. As I know that I am most motivated when working to a deadline, I looked into short story competitions and their closing dates. The Dragonfly Tea Short Story Competition was held in partnership with the Henley Literary Festival, and closed at the end of August. It stipulated that the story was on the theme of discovery, and with this in mind I started drafting ideas for the plot. Being given a theme was quite useful, as it gave me a starting point rather than a completely blank page to start working from.
It didn’t take long for an idea to take hold in my mind, and I began writing a few times each week when I had the space to dedicate at least an hour to it. I didn’t set myself any goals for a word count each time I sat down, but naturally fell into a routine of writing a few hundred words each time. The story naturally grew and evolved, with some big changes and edits taking place along the way. I found myself in a pattern of sitting down and editing small parts of the story before adding to it, and then repeating this the next time I sat down. I was surprised at how much the story developed as I wrote it, meaning that the finished piece was actually quite different to what I had pictured when I started writing. I felt like I was growing with the story, and that I too was discovering the outcome as it flowed onto the paper. This was a new experience for me, and overall I was pleased with the way the story blossomed into something new.
It wasn’t always easy to find the time to write. In the evenings I was tired from a day at work, or a day at home with the girls. At the end of a long day, the pull of watching something mindless on TV often felt stronger than the idea of doing some writing. During nap time I found myself running around doing all the jobs that are difficult to do at any other time with a toddler and a baby. However I managed to fit the writing in, usually in the evenings or early mornings. I am glad that now I have resigned from my permanent role I will be able to dedicate some time purely to writing, rather than trying to juggle everything at the same time. I do feel incredibly lucky to be in this position.
Submitting the story online, I felt a real sense of achievement at having completed my first real goal in writing. As a first submission I am not expecting to be short listed, but the feeling of accomplishment at having participated has been reward enough. Now I am planning to document my next goals to start working towards, to keep me motivated and optimistic about the future.