Winter is icumin in

Winter is properly here. No snow in the Dale as yet but it’s forecast and I’m excited. Odd really, but it feels different to be trapped by snow rather than trapped by being poorly. Perhaps it is because it makes me think of being small; playing out till I got too cold, then pikelets by the gas fire,whilst being warned of mysterious things called chilblains . Whether I will still feel like this when I am cold and slip-sliding around is a different story but,for the moment, I shall remain excited.

Winter is also wonderful for writing. There is nothing else to be done, no gardening, no lazy barbecues with friends, no trips to the seaside, no temptation to try to write outside and end up distracted by pretty much everything. I have had two solid days alone and it has been wonderful, allowing me to focus on finishing my third assignment and to begin my next module. This module is all about the history of the short story, and whilst interesting , it is somewhat condensed. Nineteenth century fiction is given a grand total of two pages. Poor old Chekhov.

I find I am comfortable with this kind of study. A lot of it is familiar territory and because of this I am able to use the course materials to understand my own writing and how to improve it. I feel quite calm, whereas whilst studying the previous section on Flash Fiction I felt like an excitable puppy. My confidence is growing, and I am finding I seek to criticise my work in order to improve it, rather than to convince myself I’m worthy of even trying. This is a massive step forward.

I haven’t entered a great many competitions lately. For one thing it is very expensive, and for another I am focused on trying to get the most from this course. As well as the technical knowledge, I get high quality criticism from my tutors, who are all published writers,so hopefully by the end of this course I should be in a better place to win, or at least get shortlisted. Or long-listed. Or the ‘we really like it but it won’t sell’ listed. You get the gist.

I am waiting for feedback on my most recent assignment . I submitted three pieces of Flash Fiction, and I adored writing them. This is an area I am new to, as both reader and writer but, despite initial misgivings, I find that I love to work in this way. It’s a tight, disciplined way of writing that forces the writer and reader to focus on the details and undercurrents to gain understanding. The most memorable pieces of flash I have read stay with me in the manner of a good poem. I am happy to have found it. One of the reasons I love this format is because the end product is easier to navigate. Proof reading two thousand plus words when I have brain fog is incredibly hard and a source of constant frustration. I generally manage about two hundred words before I realise they are starting to swim and merge and that I can barely remember what a comma looks like, never mind how to use it. A short, sharp piece of flash is possible to proof in two sittings, which means I feel a little more in control of the process and that I am working with the story as a whole.

It’s a fabulous feeling to finally be doing what I’ve always wanted to do.

Thanks for reading. As ever I love to have your support. Having people to write for, however few, is helping my confidence and skills grow day by day. If you have read this, would you help me out by liking my Facebook post, or liking/commenting on here ? I am trying to see how many people my blog actually reaches.

Finally, a picture of a snowman.

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