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 Feast, The 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 🙂
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!
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!
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!
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 🙂