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 ...