The Good and the ... yawn


I'm lucky to have sold four more stories recently - one to TaB weekly magazine and three for the Fiction Feast - and currently have a story in the latest Woman's Weekly Fiction Special, bringing my total sales to 20. Which is nice. Hopefully that means I'm doing something right on the short story front at least.

However, mentioning this to that colleague at the library, when she asked me how the writing was going, led straight to one of those conversations. "That's lovely," she said, all twinkly. "But those stories are written very much to a format, aren't they? Surely once you know the format it's just a case of changing a few details - names, places and so on?"

??????????????

"It's really not," I said, tiredly. "Guidelines yes, but not a format."

"So you're telling me that every one of your stories is completely different, and I wouldn't guess that they were all by you?"

"Yes they are, and no I actually don't think you would."

"Really?" Look of disbelief.

"Why don't you read a couple and see?"

Frowns. "Well, no it's just ... I mean - well you understand what I'm saying?"

Oh yes. Loud and clear.

I'm getting immune to it though. Gradually ...

Comments

Paul Capewell said…
Oh my! Blimey.

Funnily enough, I had similar thoughts when I was shelving children's books thinking "oh god, this must be easy, I might try bashing out a few", before realising the effort and talent that actually is involved (let alone the illustration, marketing etc).

It's so easy for someone who has never tried something to dismiss it as easy.

Doesn't make it any less offensive, mind...
LauraCassidy said…
How annoying! That's such a silly thing for her to say. But well done on the story success!!
L-Plate Author said…
Excuse me...twenty stories is no mean feat when, even though I haven't tried for years, and it is the only thing on my new year's resolutions list that I haven't had a stab at yet, I can't get one published. I know it was a while ago when I tried but I had oodles rejected. There is nothing formulaic about a short story.

I am so jealous. Well done x
Liane Spicer said…
I've got a friend who has been doing that kind of stuff since my book sold. I think he's on his way to being an ex-friend.

Seems some people can't accommodate the idea of certain other people being good at something, or attractive to nice people, or successful, or whatever. They must break it down, shrivel it, devalue it, tear it to bits in order for it to fit their comfort zone.

Avoid those people. They're miserable specimens who'll never be happy for you. 20 stories sold is one hell of a validation, and anyone who can't recognize that and offer sincere congrats needs (to quote one of my fave authors) 'a kick for l'arse'!
Nic said…
People who don't write, don't understand. I think that's also mixed with a tinge of jealousy because they wish they could do it.

Congrats!
HelenMHunt said…
It's hard to know what to say to someone like that. Everyone thinks it's easy until they try, and someone like that will never try so they'll never know.

Those of us who do know are in awe of how well you're doing x
TOM FOOLERY said…
Well done Ms Clarkey. Hold your head up high, you can be proper proud of yourself :) Tommox
Jan Jones said…
Four recent sales? That's fabulous! Well done, you!

As for the One Who Will Never Believe - either ignore her because she's not worth breaking a fingernail over, or point out brightly that every dress has a neckline, a hemline and a couple of sleeves - so top fashion designers are also presumably working to a format, right?
Lily Sheehan said…
What a jealous cow!! Glad your not taking what she says seriously. Il look out for the stories. Congratulations.
Colette said…
I think that most people think that they could write a book/story if they wanted to so it must be easy. Selling 20 stories in one hec of an achievement and you should be very proud.
Dumdad said…
Wow, congratulations!

As for that silly old moo, it's just jealousy and ignorance. It's damn hard to write ANYTHING well, whether a novel or the back of a corn flakes packet.

And Jan Jones hits it right on the nose.
Queenie said…
I had one of these earlier in the year, so I know how you feel. Selling one story to the womags is a real achievement, let alone 20. Focus on that and don't worry about your tedious colleague.
Fia said…
How very dare she. You were tres restrained. Either she's jealous - or - jealous.
Edward said…
Poor you. Still, you are having your revenge by being published - carry on having your revenge!
JJ Beattie said…
Four more stories? Wow. Brilliant.
Anna said…
A brick, a brick, where is my BRICK???

Sigh... But you have the last laugh, twenty short stories SOLD!!!

Hee hee... Many, many congrats!!!
Debs said…
Well, I don't find it easy at all. Hard in fact.

The reason you've sold 20 stories is that you're damn good at writing them.

Good for you. Raspberry to her!
Lorna F said…
Karen, don't let her get to you. You've done so brilliantly and maybe only those of us who write too know exactly how much effort and commitment it entails and how much you are to be commended for what you've achieved. Her attitude reminds me of one of my favourite quotes, actually: Gore Vidal said 'Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little.' Miaow! xx
Honeysuckle said…
I'd be tempted to take in some very expensive cream cakes to celebrate your sales as a tangible sign of your success. Because really it doesn't matter what she thinks, does it? - you're a success story!
SpiralSkies said…
Oh, I really haven't the words! I'm terribly proud of you, if it's any consolation and I'm fit to burst whenever I see on one of my blog chums' names in a mag.

If you soaked a wimmins mag in cold tea (not one with your story in it) you could probably beat her with it? That'd learn 'er.
Amanda said…
How blinking fantastic, Karen - 20 stories (plus a novel almost there)!!!

Just ignore the silly woman - if it was that simple we would all have sold 20 stories! xx
Bernadette said…
I know exactly what to say to 'that' sort of person.
Nothing.
Ever again.

Twenty stories is a fantastic landmark that took me years to achieve - and here you are doing it all so quickly, and the books and everything else. Talent will out - and it certainly has with you.
Well done a million times!
Your real friends (yes, us!) understand what an achievement it is and that silly moo can go take a running jump.
womagwriter said…
Has that person still got a nose on her face? I'd have flattened it by now. Ignore the silly cow.

I'm another who took years to get to 20 sales. Obviously haven't yet found the right formula, then.
Helen P said…
You should say: "Actually - chortle, chortle - I based the last one on you."
Karen said…
You lot are blimmin' marvellous!

paul - I do remember thinking the same thing about Mills & Boon books years ago to be honest - until I tried to write one ...

lauracassidy - I suppose unless you've done it it's hard to fathom. I'm trying to be understanding :o)

l-plate author - I'm sure when you do try again though, you'll be successful :o)

liane spicer - Definitely make him an ex-friend. True friends should be happy and proud! And yes I should stay away from the negative people, or at least not talk to them about it :o)

nic - Thanks, and you're probably right. Thinking about it, I'm jealous of people who can sing :o)

helenmh - Thank you, that's a lovely thing to say. I should probably just stop telling people who don't write!

tommo - Thanks for that, and I will try - in spite of the force-nine gale blowing today!!

jan jones - Ooh, that's a good one! I wish I could think of things like that to say at the time :o)

lily - Luckily I don't work with her that often! Usually the stories are published a month or three in advance, so it's hard to know exactly when they're coming out :o)

colette - They do say everyone has a book (or story) in them, but you're right - it's getting it out that counts. In a way that's enjoyable to the reader, hopefully :o)

boomer - Maybe she has a hidden talent she's waiting to unleash on the world :o)

dumdad - Thank you for that :o)Stories published on a Cornflakes box could make breakfasts more interesting ...

queenie - It's a bit of a drag isn't it, and does bring you down slightly? I will ignore in future though (or just not tell her!)

fia - Well, she's very proud of running the book clubs at the library and has made the point it's what she considers 'proper' reading :o)

edward - Ooh yes, that sort of revenge is fairly harmless too. Unlike poison in her tea say ...

jj beattie - Thank you :o))

anna - Lol :o) And a big thank you. I've a feeling that IF the novel is ever published, that won't be right either!

debs - That's really nice, thank you. It does get easier with practise so we must make sure we keep practising :o))

lorna f - *smiles* That's a good quote - I'm the same when my brother plays the guitar so effortlessly (I've tired learning and I'm rubbish!)

honeysuckle - Ooh cream cakes! Good idea - though I'd probably eat them all myself :o)

sprialskies - Aw, you is luverly :o) Same to you too.

Maybe if I soaked said wimmin's mag in concrete ...?

amanda - Actually another colleague did chip in and say "maybe we should all give it a go if it's that easy then," which shut her up! Fingers crossed for the novel :o)

bernadette - You're definitely 'real' friends, and your support means such a lot. Luckily I don't work with her that often, so avoiding her is easy :o)

womag writer - I'm just waiting for your story about a brilliant triathlon entrant ... it sounds like a winner :o)

helen p - Ooh that's a good idea. It could involve a fatal accident with a library book ...
Grrrrrrrrr!! that kind of negativity is just awful. Ignore! (easier said than done)
Suzanne Jones said…
20 stories sold is BRILLAINT. Well done.

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