Getting paid for Frank Burnside and Haile Salassie

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THE WRITER’S LIFE

This professional writer has suddenly got busy. I’m finding it’s often the way in this game, where there’ll be quiet phases, followed by periods where work has to be prioritised. On the paid front, I received a cheque in the post this morning: I’ve won first prize in a short fiction writing competition. On the pulp fiction side of things, my main webzine editor is practically begging me for new material. It all feels rather nice.

The prize-winning short story was originally published on this blog as The child who wished for nothing. As with other stories, I realised this one had more potential, so I worked on it. I re-drafted, edited and polished it up and obviously did a pretty good job because it won the top prize. It’s a modest sum and hardly a prestigious award but it’s recognition of a talent, and it’s exposure. A Girl, Frank Burnside and Haile Salassie will be published in Writing Magazine next March.

It’s not one of my stock horrors or trademark nasties. Instead it’s a whimsical tale of a girl and her talking dog. The brief was to write a story about something life-changing, so I did. I wrote the original as a story to give hope to a friend who’d just lost a family pet. Even if I say so myself, the revised version is a beautiful little piece of writing. It actually makes this psycho writer cry every time I read it. Once the rights revert to me after printing in Writing Magazine, I may turn it into a children’s book. It’s exactly the kind of story I’d have gained comfort from when I lost a pet as a kid. Of course, I’ll need an illustrator, so I need to decide whether to advertise, hunt a specific one down, or find one through The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook; or go to an agent or publisher. I think the project has legs, so it’s worth pitching around.

It’s around March next year that I’m planning to publish Forgive me no-one, the truthful telling of my time on the road. The other three books are well in the background now for at least the next six months, while I concentrate on the memoir and hitting the publication date. I would reckon I’ve written about one tenth of the book in first draft form. It’s looking like running to around 50-60’000 words and 400-450 pages, so there’s a lot to do. As well as writing it, working with test readers, re-drafting and all of the usual, I need to start pitching synopses, talking to publishers and agents. I’m hoping that this coinciding with the exposure in a national writers’ magazine could be a bit of a break. Maybe I’ll get The Paradoxicon shifting on Amazon and even into print.

Then there’s the filler work: the column-fillers and pulp fiction which I churn out for webzines as further exposure and self-marketing. I have at least one editor who is desperate for my writing: what a lovely problem to have. Despite a recent hiccup, Solum oculos claude will appear in this week’s Schlock. I like to maintain a back catalogue of pulp work for when editors call but I’ve been so distracted of late that I’m up-to-date. Having no completed work lined up is not good. I need to churn out some stories over the next few weeks, to get ahead of myself again and have a back catalogue ready to submit.

There’s the day-to-day stuff as well: submissions, competitions, pitches, reading, research, query letters, synopses, biographies…Sometimes there’s time for some creative writing. I’m very busy and loving my job.

This prize-winning writer is happy.

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