The best place to start this blog lark is with a quick explanation of its title - why 'Scallops'?  
It came to me in a dream:  short stories are like scallops!  Similes and metaphors don't usually come to me in my sleep, I wish they did,  but on this occasion  I had watched rather too much of Hell's Kitchen before bedtime.  At some point, the wannabe chefs had competed to free perfect scallops from the gelatinous mass inside the shells. Craggy-faced Gordon was not pleased if any scallops had been spoiled in the process which, of course, most were.

A short story should also be small and perfectly formed:  it is the result of the skillful cutting down of a large, slippery concept in to a small, firm morsel of art.  As a writer still learning her craft, I know how easy it is to mutilate a good short story.  But I am hoping I'll get better with practice and - fingers crossed - that'll happen before my face turns too craggy...

Thursday, 9 December 2010

The Work, Write Balance

Urgh. I knew this would happen. Having a job really gets in the way of writing! I started a part-time job three weeks ago, working for a lovely non-profit in San Francisco. It's great and it's certainly nice to be earning again, but I have hardly any time to devote to my writing now. I foolishly thought a part-time job would be fine. However, I find it almost impossible to write when I know there's some work to be done and, in a non-profit, there's ALWAYS work to be done.

Now's the time to take the advice all professional writers give. Make time. Find a slot in the day and stick to it, give it your full attention, everything else can wait. For me, it'll be first thing in the morning, before I've had a chance to check my in-box. If I wait until later in the day, it'll never get done.

But it's not all bad. The big advantages of working are the people you meet and the stories you uncover. I'm looking forward to gathering some more life experience I can use in my fiction. I worked at all sorts of hell-holes during my student days. I squeezed peaches (sending the soft ones to street markets, the firm ones to the supermarket); I packed bottles of cooking oil off a conveyor belt; I cored lettuces in near freezing temperatures; and I folded surgical gowns at a hospital laundry. All the details of these ordeals are filed away in my brain and will be put to good use. The jobs I had after graduation weren't nearly so interesting but the job I have now will introduce me to all sorts of people in all sorts of life situations.

My bloke says I should quit my job if it really gets in the way. He's a rare gem of a man and I'm lucky as lucky can be that he is a successful artist: he knows what it's like to live the dream and to have people back you up. He expects a lot of me - more than I expect of myself - which is a good thing because you work so much harder when someone's counting on you.

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