Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Horses for Courses

My lovely writing friend Helen Hunt is holding a short story workshop at the end of July, aimed at the women's magazine market. She's had plenty of success in this area and knows her onions, so if you're looking to break into the market ... don't sign up. There's enough competition out there already. I'm kidding. No really, I am. DO sign up - I know you'll have an enjoyable and informative experience.

I once did a creative writing course at a local college, when the children were little. My ex-husband didn't believe me and thought I was having an affair. With three children under five, I can't imagine how he thought I had the energy to cheat on him AND write a short story to show him when I got home. But I digress...

Several people on the course were, in my opinion, genuinely talented - one young chap in particular had us in stitches every week with his inventive, off-the-wall tales, and I was certain that one day I'd be either reading his bestselling novel, or seeing a screenplay he'd written. We all did.

I bumped into him in Boots the other day. He works there full time now, and gave up writing soon after the course ended and I couldn't help thinking what a shame. Writing obviously wasn't for him and yet ... I'd bet my life that if he'd persevered he'd be wildly successful by now, because he was a hell of a lot more gifted than most of us in the group - myself included.

It made me realise whoever said writing is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration is absolutely true for those who stick with it, and the rest?

I guess they'll never know.


Lorna F said...

This is so true, Karen - except, I'm sure, for your comment that this chap was more gifted than you. Writing is bloody hard graft and is the worst job in the world - and the best!

Sarah Pearson said...

I'm sorry but I had to laugh at the idea that your ex-husband thought that, in the midst of illicit passion, you'd take time out to dash off a quick short story ...

HelenMHunt said...

Thanks so much for mentioning this, Karen. I'm really looking forward to running the workshop.

Anna Scott Graham said...

Great post, and so true. It's hard work, flashes of brilliance here and there, but the daily effort is what matters. Some have the talent, but not the willingness to park that butt in the chair. A strange drive, to be solitary but productive. So glad you stayed with it!

Karen said...

lorna - I do think it's the willingness to keep at it that defines a true writer. Hopefully all the practice increases the talent!

sarah - I know - as if! I did write a short story about it though, which I had to read out one night.

helen - I'm sure you'll do a briliant job :o)

anna - I'm glad I did too :o) I do think the daily effort improves our writing too. Maybe if he'd stuck with it he'd have burnt out by now!

Jaxbee said...

That's a great post and so true although I'm sure you're being far too humble about your talent. Is the man in Boots scribbling anything? It does seem such a waste.

Courses do have a dramatic effect. I went on a fantastic week long Arvon residential (at least I'm pretty convinced that's where my hubby thought I was... ;) ) came back and handed in my notice!

Hope the course goes well for your friends, I'd love to have gone but not this time.

Pat Posner said...

Gosh, Karen
I wonder if your ex and my ex are twins? I got the exact same accusation.
I'm glad you got a story out of it? I didn't - I was only writing children's books at that time.

I'd love to go to Helen's workshop but it's too far away.

Teresa Ashby said...

It saddens me when I see people with real talent who just don't realise it like your man in Boots.
Great post :-)

Debs Carr said...

I wish I could attend these courses, Helen is so talented.

I can't imagine anyone wanting an affair with one small child, let alone three :)

Such a shame that chap didn't keep up with his writing.

Lydia said...

I read somewhere that published writers are just non-published writers who wouldn't give up. Whilst that sounds a bit glib I do like the idea of beating the odds by just being stubborn! Best of luck with the course, Helen! x

Diane Fordham said...

I really enjoyed your post Karen. Thank you. With all the rejections I've received this week, I still need to write. So I kind of figure the people who stick it out through all the hurdles..hanging for those acceptances/publications to turn things around, they're the true writers! I've come to the conclusion that as nice as it would be to make a good income from writing, for me, it's not for the money (just as well, lol) it's for the love of writing!

Jean said...

What was it Tony Hancock said in one of his sketches? 'I could've been a doctor, but I didn't bother.' Something like that anyway.

Seriously though, I know you're right. There must be so much wasted talent of people who don't persist in making the effort.

Kat W said...

I'm sure Helen will run an excellent course with all her experience!

Ah yes, making me feel guilty about those books I've not even sent off anywhere. A little more perspiration needed, me thinks!

Lovely to have a blog visit from you today :-)
Kat Xx

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Jayne said...

I'm going on Helen's workshop! Am very excited. Not been on a workshop before but it might kick-start the writing again (which has been sadly dormant).

It's sad about that young chap, but if writing is in his heart then he'll probably pick up a pen again at some time or another. It just wasn't the right time.

Suzanne Jones said...

Such a shame about your Boots chappy. Hopefully he'll start wrting again one day.

Really wanted to go on Helen's course - it sounded fab. If only I lived closer.


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