Wendy’s writing for women’s magazines now – read how she does it!

mags:stories Please welcome the delightful Wendy Clarke. Wendy is in the interview hot seat today, the 1st of April – but be assured, Wendy is no April’s fool!

In the last two years Wendy has celebrated a milestone birthday, been made redundant from her teaching job and embarked on a new writing career…oh, and she got married! After completing two writing courses (with www.writingclasses.co.uk), she has had her writing long and short listed in competitions and has sold stories to Fiction FeastThe People’s Friend and Woman’s Weekly. She is a mother of two girls and has three lovely grand children.  Now over to Wendy’s interview – and  if you have any of your own questions for Wendy, don’t hesitate to ask 🙂

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The American writer Cynthia Ozick famously once said, “If we had to say what writing is, we would describe it essentially as an act of courage.” How much courage did it take for you to start writing?

Wendy: I don’t think courage came into it! Having been made redundant when my small primary school closed, I was looking for something to occupy my time while thinking about the next step. My brother had just completed the creative writing course at writingclasses and recommended it to me. Having taught English for ten years, it seemed a good challenge to see if I could practise what I preached – I wasn’t to know how much I was going to enjoy the course or how much I was going to love writing.

Can you describe what it felt like when your first story was accepted for publication in a magazine and which magazine was it?

Wendy: My first story was published in Take a Break’s Fiction Feast. I was absolutely ecstatic – especially as this magazine puts photographs with the story. I texted everyone I knew and even showed the newsagent my story – how sad is that!

NEWTABSPECIALSLOGO_2010_0 Not sad at all. I think I would have done the very same – in fact, I know I would have! Next question: Where do you get your ideas from – do you find them everywhere, or do you have to seek them out?

Wendy: Absolutely everywhere. Often it comes from something small that someone has said or something that has happened to me. I have also got a couple of ideas from newspaper articles.

What is the best thing about writing short stories for magazines?

Wendy: It has to be when you see your story published and you realise that maybe a quarter of a million people are going to read it – I find it quite overwhelming when I think about that!

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WOW! It is amazing to think of it like that! You are a bestseller!  Okay, next question: What is the worst thing about writing short stories for magazines?

Wendy: Of course it has to be the rejections. Although I have been lucky to have sold quite a number of stories, there will always be more rejections than acceptances.

How many stories do you have out waiting to be considered at the moment? And is this the norm when writing stories for magazines?

Wendy: I shall count up … … Right then, at the moment I have twenty six that I am waiting to hear from. Every acceptance or rejection means more stories that need to be written. Is this the norm? I have no idea but I suspect it must be if you want to take magazine writing seriously. After all, we all know about the law of probability (Actually, I don’t – as I’m useless at maths but I’m sure it comes into play somewhere!)

The writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez said, “Writing short stories is much more difficult than writing a novel. Every time you write a short story, you have to begin all over again.” Do you agree with Mr Marquez?

Wendy: Sorry, Mr Marquez, but I can’t agree or disagree on this one as I have never written a novel. What I do think though, is that it must be easier to get over the rejection of a short story, that has taken a couple of days to write, than one for a novel which might have taken a year.

The writer AL Kennedy says she can write anywhere. Can you? Or do you have a favourite place you like to write – and a favourite time?

Wendy: I don’t have a particular writing place. I write all over the house – my favourite places change all the time. In the summer, the conservatory is nice but at the moment I like writing in the living room as we have new settees and the light is good. I write at any time of day – when I can fit it in.

If you had one piece of advice to give to someone who wants to write stories for magazines, what would it be?

Wendy: Study the market, toughen yourself up against inevitable rejection, write, write, write and send, send, send!

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What are you writing plans for the future?

Wendy:This is a difficult one as a year ago I never envisaged myself as a writer and I certainly never expected to be making any money from it. I would like to carry on writing magazine stories as I really enjoy them but I do sometimes wonder if I should be brave and try to write something longer. My real problem is that I’m not a planner – I have the seed of an idea that grows and develops as I write and, as a novelist yourself, I’m sure you’ll agree that this is probably not the best way to embark on the next best seller!

Ha ha ha –  it may surprise you to know this is exactly how many novelists work! 

Wendy: Thank you for inviting me as a guest on your blog, Marianne, and thanks to your readers who have taken the time to read this. You are all very welcome to pop along to my blog, Wendy’s Writing Now, where you can follow the ups and downs of my writing life.

Thank you, Wendy. It’s been absolutely lovely to talk to you and I wish you every success in the future and look forward to reading more of your stories. Thank you too for inviting us to visit your blog.  

If you have any questions for Wendy about either writing for magazines or simply about changing careers later in life, or anything,  do ask her. Also, whether you are writer or a reader, do take Wendy up on her invitation to visit her blog. You will really enjoy reading what Wendy is up to – I know I do 🙂

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33 Responses to Wendy’s writing for women’s magazines now – read how she does it!

  1. Katrina says:

    Hi Marianne and Wendy.

    I really enjoyed reading your blog Interview post.

    Good luck with your story’s

    Hope you both had a good easter.
    Take care
    Katie.

    • Thanks, Katie. Glad you enjoyed reading about Wendy’s writing. Have you ever thought about writing stories for women’s magazines?
      Hope you had a good Easter too 🙂

      • Katie says:

        Hi Marianne

        I have got a short story that one day I like to send to a mag but for now it’s staying in my draw. As I am tweaking it at some point in-between writing my novel. But it’s interesting to look into.

        A question – How long is does a short story normal have to be for a mag?

        I had a chocolate filled Easter 😉

        Have a nice day!
        Katie.

        • Wendy says:

          Stories for magazines will be different lengths depending on which magazine you’re writing for. The best thing to do is to look at each magazine’s guidelines where they will tell you the required lenghts.

          • Katie says:

            Hi Wendy
            Thanks- I wish you every success with all your upcoming stories.

            Have a great day.

            Katie.

    • Wendy says:

      Thank you Katrina – I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

  2. Jane Wheelaghan says:

    Hi Wendy
    Do you think magazines are looking for new authors – or do they have a huge ‘stable’ of people they can turn to?

  3. Hey Jane, great to hear from you here! I’ll let Wendy answer your question as she is the expert! :0)

  4. Wendy says:

    I’m no expert, Jane and it’s a question that is difficult to answer. It’s important to remember that what the magazines are always looking out for is a story that will entertain their readers, whether this be written by a new or an established writer. If they weren’t interested in new writers, I wouldn’t have sold any stories (after all I only sold my first last August). If you take a look at several magazines, you will often see the same names cropping up but this isn’t necessarily because they are ‘known’ to the magazine, just that these experienced writers know what that particular magazine wants (and they are good writers) – once you have sold a story it is easier to guage what type of story the magazine likes. I certainly sell more stories now for this reason as I can guage them better to the market. The one exception is My Weekly who have closed their doors to new writers and sadly I missed the boat there.

  5. fcmalby says:

    What a fantastic interview. Really interesting. Thanks, Marianne and Wendy.

  6. Teresa says:

    Great interview – and excellent advice from Wendy 🙂 x

  7. Wonderful post, Wendy – I’m so pleased about all your great success with short stories. I don’t think it will be that long before you’re tackling something longer (and succeeding)!

  8. Hello Fiona, Teresa and Rosemary,
    thanks for dropping by and, absolutely, excellent advice from Wendy :0) Like Rosemary, I think whatever Wendy decides to tackle, she will be successful!

  9. Kendra says:

    Hi Wendy,
    Thanks for the interesting interview and useful advice. I was just wondering how you work. I know you said you get your ideas from everywhere but do you usually study a magazine and then think of a good story for it or do you first write your stories and then try to find a magazine which suits the piece? Also are there any particular magazines which you know are more open to new writers?

  10. Wendy says:

    The magazines all like different styles of short stories (with some overlaps) as their readership is different, so it is important to read a few back copies to get a feel for the type of stories their readers like. I wouldn’t, for example, send the same story to Fiction Feast and The People’s Friend as they like very different things. I wouldn’t say that any one magazine is easier to break into than another as you will find that one magazine style may suit one writer but another will suit a different writer. From reading other writers’ blogs there are some people that have only been published in The People’s Friend while others get a lot accepted only by Woman’s Weekly – this is because their style suits this particular magazine. I’ve been lucky enough to have been published in all three and this is probably because I don’t waste time sending a story to one magazine that would be more suited to another. When I started out, I wrote a story then thought, “Which magazine would this suit?” but now I choose which magazine I am going to write for that week and write a story to suit it. Hope that answers your questions, Kendra.

  11. Tracy Fells says:

    Lovely post – thank you Marianne and Wendy. I find reading about Wendy’s success with womag stories really inspiring!

  12. Ruth Hunt says:

    Hello Wendy and Marianne,
    Very interesting interview, I’ve never really concentrated on short stories but while I’m being edited I’ve recently been writing a few. This has given me the confidence to set them free from my pc and hopefully one day get them published.
    Thanks Wendy,
    Ruth

  13. Hells to Kendra, Tracy and Ruth from me,
    so glad you enjoyed reading Wendy’s answers and comments – and nice to meet you, Tracy 🙂

  14. I always think it’s amazing how you can “get to know” people in Blogland without actually ever physically meeting them, so it must be especially lovely when you can/do so 🙂

  15. Kendra says:

    Hi Wendy,

    Thanks so much for your reply, that is very helpful. I think that I will try the targeted approach with my next story as I usually write a story and then try to choose a magazine for it and this doesn’t seem to work.

    Best wishes, Kendra

  16. Della Galton says:

    Wendy, I loved what you said about showing the newsagent your first published story. I did that too – well I had just bought six copies of the magazine, er hem, so I felt he deserved an explanation. And I danced on air all the way back from the shop. It was a long time ago (1987) but that moment is still one of my writing highlights.

    • Ruth Huny says:

      Hello
      I had to laugh with Della. I remember when I got a piece into a newspaper. I got up about six then waited for the local shop to open ( you get a phone call from them the night before it goes in) While waiting for the staff to arrive, I naturally told them all about it! The paper was late that day, the only one late was the one with my piece in. By then half the village knew about it. When the papers eventually arrived I remember opening in and showing it to the staff. One of the shop assistants put on her glasses and peered,
      ‘Is that it?’
      Red faced and feeling a little embarrassed, I bought about three copies and left.

    • Wendy says:

      I had just bought four copies! You never forget that moment, do you.

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