What shall I do, she thought. This editing lark is boring. Oh, I know.
She started a blog. I’ll write a 100-word story every day, she decided, for as long as I can be bothered. She had no illusions that it was going to be one of her little follies, that she’d abandon the idea within a month.
But she encountered something she hadn’t reckoned with: readers. They read, they liked, they commented.
I have twenty, fifty, one hundred, two hundred and forty seven readers now, she thought, I can’t abandon them.
So six months on, she’s still here.
So much for today’s ‘story’. But there’s a lot more: my writing observations, blog awards, so click here to continue reading. You may want to make yourself a cuppa or pour a glass of red before you start, though, because you have a whole month’s worth of words ahead of you.
So, as you may have gathered, today Only 100 Words’ is six-month old. On January 23, out of boredom and the vague sense that I should blog, I started this lark. I didn’t think I’d get all that far. And that I’ve made it this far is down to you, my dear readers. I thank you for reading my stories and for being so nice about them.
I really didn’t expect it. But I like a nice surprise.
Here are a few things I’ve learnt:
- Sometimes, there’s just no knowing of what kind of story I’ll write. I’ll start with a line or an image and take it from there.
- I have my best ideas when writing, so more often than not, the first twenty to fifty words end up in the bin.
- It’s a lot easier now coming up with a story than it was six months ago. Imagination really is like a muscle that needs exercise to give its best performance.
- There’s no such thing as a bad writing prompt. I have written some of my favourite stories based on writing prompts I thought wouldn’t do it for me. Take All About Patience. I looked at the image and the first line and thought, I can’t work with this. But stubborn as I am, I typed out the line. When I got to patiently, my mind went, ‘no, she’s not patient. She wants things to hurry up already.’ I had no idea which things the character wanted to hurry up and I wanted to find out. So I wrote on. I had no idea I’d end up with a grieving teenager and an old man who give each other a run for the money on the monosyllabic front. It took quite a bit of polishing before I got something I was happy with. But in the end, I did. I like that story. If I’d given in to my first reaction, it wouldn’t have been written.
- Somewhat related: Flash fiction challenges are awesome.
- There’ve been a few occasions when I thought, ‘shame it’ll have to go on the blog, I could submit that story to a competition.’ But then I remembered that if it hadn’t been for the blog, I wouldn’t have written that story in the first place. Since I’ve found new homes for a handful of stories in the meantime, as well, I’m not allowed to think it anymore.
- I do some of my best work when the kiddo runs around in the playground.
- I’ve published stories I didn’t like, but they were the only ones I had that day so they had to do. I’ve never published anything I didn’t deem worth reading, though.
- I find weekends harder than weekdays. Which is strange, given that I’m alone with the kiddo during the week. I reckon that in the long term, I’ll take off weekends. But I’m going to keep up the seven day routine for another six months.
- People seem to like serials. A lot. So I might write another one.
I’ve collected quite a few award nominations since January. I’m grateful to all the bloggers who thought I deserved to be nominated, and I apologise for not doing anything about those nominations until now. I’ve answered all the questions, I think…
Special thanks to Jason of Devious Bloggery for going off-script with his nominations because he’s given me the idea to do things differently and to Nortina who only asked one question: Am I hungry? You bet I am – do you have any idea how much time I’ve just spent answering questions? It’s hungry work, that.
2. I am a supermarket snob. I love Waitrose – they consider artichokes an essential – and the M&S food hall (‘it’s not just food…’).
3. I used to be Gwen Stefani’s neighbour (well, sort of, we lived a few houses down the road from their place in Primrose Hill) but I only ever saw Gavin Rosdale when they were in London.
4. I’ve moved three times in the last ten months.
5. I’ve recently and to my own surprise discovered that I like cricket.
6. I don’t think I’m that interesting, really, that’s why I write fiction.
On to the Liebster Award nominations.
Lynn Love nominated me in February:
(1) What was your favourite book as a child and why?
Pippi Longstocking because she’s the strongest girl in the world and a pirate.
(2) If you were a Supervillain, who would you want to be and why?
Loki because every time I looked in the mirror, I’d see Tom Hiddleston.
(3) If you could only save one animal from a global extinction, what would it be?
The domestic cat. And then I would watch in horror as they evolve back to their wild ancestors and eradicate mankind.
(4) Where’s your happy place? Describe.
By the water – preferably the sea, but rivers and lakes will do.
(5) E-readers or conventional books?
I don’t mind as long as the book’s good. If I’m engrossed in a story, I don’t notice the medium, anyway.
(6) If you could choose one piece of tech from a Bond movie, which would it be?
(7) What are the three foods that you wouldn’t want to live without?
Greek yoghurt, almond butter, apples.
(8) If a griffin fought a hydra, which would win?
I want it to be the griffin, but I’m a realist, so I have to go for the hydra.
(9) What’s the favourite post you’ve posted?
(10) What’s the best piece of conversation you’ve ever overheard? (Mine was one old lady talking to another- ‘She follows her Dad with that nose.’ Brilliant.)
Something a teenage boy said to his mother on the Euston station escalator. I can’t remember what it was, but it made a bunch of evening commuters struggle not to burst out laughing.
In March, it was The Wandering Feline:
1. What is the weirdest thing you ever ate?
I don’t eat meat and I have to say I don’t understand the need for vegetarian mince, nor do I think it’s at all tasty.
2. What place in the world do you feel most happy?
By the water.
3. What book are you reading?
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro – it’s been on my reading list for years.
4. If you could do anything to make this world a bit better, what would it be?
I’d make every politician on the planet incapable of lying.
5. Sun and sea or Mountains and lakes?
6. What is top of your bucket list?
Get a publishing deal.
7. If you were an animal, what would you be?
8. What are you most proud of?
That the kiddo doesn’t swear in the playground (anymore – don’t ask…).
9. What has been the most important piece of advice you’ve been given in your life?
Treat others the way you want to be treated.
10. Do you have a photograph that creates a special memory for you? (if possible please share it also)
Yes, but it’s old school and I don’t have a scanned version.
And then Lynn nominated me again in May:
1. Why do you blog?
Because I decided on a whim that I should take up blogging again.
2. Who’s your dream audience?
People who’ll buy my novel once I have a publishing deal…
3. Cats or dogs?
4. Muesli or bacon and eggs?
Eggs without the bacon – I don’t eat meat.
5. Which was your best blog post and why?
6. Your favourite book as a kid?
7. What’s the most personal piece of information you’ve revealed on your blog? Did you regret it afterwards?
I reckon I reveal something personal in every story, but the reader has to decide what’s real and what’s fiction. So, no regrets.
8. What are your blogging ambitions?
Find people who like my writing.
9. Favourite venue for a first date?
I’ve not had to go on a first date for yonks, fortunately. Used to be a little Thai place on Upper Street that doesn’t look like much but where the food is super tasty.
10. Would you be a superhero or a supervillain and what powers would you have?
I’d be a supervillain and my power would be to make everybody tell the truth.
11. What’s your dream Writer’s Cave, the place you’d love to write from?
An office with a huge desk in front of a huger window facing south-west-ish with a view of a sandy beach, with an Ikea Poang chair one corner for reading and bookshelves on all non-windowed bits of wall.
1. Blogging or writing?
Both – but writing comes first.
2. Writing or typing?
Writing by hand first, once I know where the story’s going, I switch to typing.
3. What is your best blogging or writing tip you want to share?
Write the first draft as fast as possible, then edit it to turn it into something readable.
4. Looking good or feeling good?
5. What does a healthy lifestyle mean to you?
Enough to tough it out with the kiddo in the biscuit aisle.
6. What is your ultimate guilty pleasure?
7. How do you incorporate play in your life?
My daughter is four and a half – I have to keep the play at bay sometimes.
8. When was the last time you had to laugh so hard you’d cried and why was that?
I think it was watching John Oliver on Last Week Tonight, but I can’t remember about what I’m afraid.
9. What is the happiest place in the world, according to you?
A sandy beach in summer with a small child armed with bucket and spade.
10. How would you describe your (future/pretended) parenting style?
Hands off: I try to give her as much control over her own life as possible.
11. What do you think is the most important lesson we need to instil in boys?
Treat everyone the way you want to be treated.
Oh, and Millie, too:
1.What are the main types of posts you write and what type of blogs do you enjoy reading yourself?
I write 100-word stories. I read blogs of other writers (both fiction and about the craft of writing), food blogs, travel blogs, sustainability blogs, parenting blogs and anything else that catches my interest.
2.Do you have a particular time of day when you do your blogging and how often do you generally aim to post?
I try to blog in the morning to get it out of the way, but I only succeed about half the time.
3. Have you a particular genre you like to read or watch on TV/movies, and are there any genres that you would avoid at all costs?
I am probably most partial to SciFi, but I read across the board. As long as it’s well-written, I’ll read it.
4. What would be your ideal holiday destination? (e.g. are you a sunshine-and-beach kind of person or a sightseer, a sports-driven holiday-seeker, or what?)
I’m a bit of everything. I love the beach and the sea, but I could never spent two weeks frying in the sun. I need old stones with history and local cuisine and I love discovering a place on foot.
5. What is your biggest goal in life at the moment?
Get a publishing contract.
6. What is your favourite type of music? Do you have any favourite performer(s)?
Instead of listing everything I like, let me put it like this: If they play it on 6Music, I’ll probably like it. My favourite band of the last decade or so is The National, The Color and the Shape by the Foo Fighters is still one of my favourite albums of all time and if I ever get to pick my desert island discs, they will be Boys Don’t Cry by The Cure, Everlong by Foo Fighters, Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana, London Calling by The Clash, Hanging on the Telephone by Blondie, I Need My Girl by The National, Rockaway Beach by the Ramones and Beethoven’s Ninth (ask me again tomorrow and the list may well change – for instance, there’s no Joni Mitchell on there or Wolf Like Me by TV on the Radio –, but Boys Don’t Cry and Everlong will always be on the list).
7. Do you have a favourite musical instrument and do you play anything yourself?
I love the guitar and the piano. I can play the piano a little, but I’d like to be able to play the guitar.
8. To what extent are you influenced by fashion in your choice of clothes?
To a very limited extend. I’ve toned down the more provocative aspects of my punk and goth days, but basically, I still dress the same way I did when I was 15. About 80 percent of my clothes are black.
9. Describe your ideal meal/venue for a meal on a special occasion or night out.
French if it’s got to be fancy, Mexican otherwise. I’m quite excited about Wahaca opening in Bristol today, actually.
10. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you ‘grew up’?
11. Now the biggie: What do you think of ‘Game of Thrones’ (book or TV series)? This seems to be a popular discussion point at the moment!
I haven’t read GoT yet, so I can’t watch the show yet, either.
Sarah of Chilly Bella Photo Art nominated me for the Creative Bloggers Award:
5 observations about myself:
1. I am not a morning person.
2. My idea of a daring outfit colour choice is light grey.
3. My toes, however, are painted teal most of the time.
4. I am a cat servant. Sir’s meow is my command (but look at him, he’s adorable).
5. I have won books on Twitter three times.
Louise of The Storyteller’s Abode nominated me for Blog Tour Award. I was supposed to post my response to this on 27 April, so I’m only about three months late…
What are you working on at the moment?
Scarlett and a 100-word story a day.
How does your work differ from others in your genre?
In Scarlett, I have a kickass MC who is absolutely helpless among normal people.
Why do you write what you do?
Because I can’t help but wonder what’s really going on when politicians and people with more money than sense meet – somehow I don’t think they’re closet philanthropists.
How does your creative writing process work?
It’s rather shambolic, which isn’t a big deal as far as 100-word stories are concerned. When it comes to longer work, my minimal planning approach means long, painful editing. Scarlett’s middle, for example, needs a total rewrite.
Irene also gave me a Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award
1. Do you have a partner and if so, how does this person complement you? If you don’t, describe your dream partner with whom you would happily live ever after.
2. Do you have children, and if so, how have you managed to balance motherhood and other life activities?
I have a daughter who, despite her best efforts, cannot keep me from writing. It means I don’t sleep enough, though, and I don’t read as much as I’d like.
3. What part/characteristic of you are you most proud of?
4. What was the last thing that made you laugh until you cried?
5. What genre do you prefer to read?
I’ll find stories I enjoy in almost any genre, but if I had to name one, it would be Science Fiction.
6. In what genre do you generally write?
7. What is your writing process?
Write the first draft as fast as I can, then iron out the kinks. Works well for flash fiction, but when it comes to longer prose, I wish I could be more organised (I’ve tried, I can’t – I need chaos otherwise I’ll lose interest).
8. Do you have any other passions than writing?
Reading, learning, food, sports.
1. What word best describes you?
2. What is your greatest fear?
Parasites – the kind that burrow into the body and destroy you from the inside. Moving on…
3. Why do you have a blog?
Because I got bored on night and wanted something new to play with.
4. What is your favorite quote?
All stories are love stories. (Robert McLiam Wilson)
Any number of lines from Stephen King’s On Writing.
5. Compose a quote about writing or the power of words:
Writing it is the only way of getting it written.
6. What is your favorite thing to write? Short story, poem, novel, do you like to break boundaries with experimental writing? Tell me about it.
7. How and when did you realize that writing was important to you?
I’ve always written. I’ve kept a journal since the age of eleven, and I’ve always written stories. But I finally got serious about it about ten years ago.
Are you a cat person or a dog person?
What is your greatest fear?
Would you rather be buried or cremated?
I want to have a sea burial, actually.
What is your favorite literary work?
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
You are a character in a book you have read. Describe yourself, but don’t tell us who you are specifically:
I’m thirteen, I’m super-smart and I could kill all the adults in my company if I wanted to. But I don’t want to.
What is your favorite thing to write? Short story, poem, novel, do you like to break boundaries with experimental writing? Tell me about it.
Is there a book or movie concept that you related to so much you felt like you should have thought of it first?
Not that so much as reading Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood made me give up on the story I was writing then because I thought people will think I got my story from her (even though the only thing the two have in common is the genetic splicing).
This is where I’m going to cheat – I’m giving you a list of stories I’ve enjoyed reading recently (not as many as I’d like because I still don’t have broadband, don’t get me started…) instead of nominations – so go and read those:
How many times have I said thank you for reading? Probably not often enough, considering how long this post is – so thank you for making it to the end. Business as usual will resume tomorrow.
Here’s to the next six months.
Oh, and no more awards, please – I think I’d rather stick to 100-word posts from now on.