Changes are afoot in the Burnett household; we are moving across country to the east of Scotland. A new house, a new town, a new area to explore, new friends to make…
All very exciting but breaking up a home where we’ve lived for nearly thirty years is hard work, both physical and emotional.
My office where I work, has had a good clear out of thirty years of writing. I’ll keep all my published work which at the moment fills almost an entire bookcase, what with the 250 Postman Pat comic scripts and annuals I wrote, the hundred or so BBC radio and TV programmes I scripted, the numerous articles on all sorts of subjects I wrote for magazines and online sites, and the magazine short stories published here and abroad. And then there were the many writing workshops I ran and the materials I prepared for them.
But as well as the ‘successful’ pieces, there were very many more rejected manuscripts – hundreds of them in fact. For every piece I had accepted, there were ten ‘failures’ which I kept, just in case I could work on them or a market came up which would be suitable or because I didn’t want to throw them out.
Well, I have now. Reading them over, I can see exactly why they were rejected and I tossed them all out – they weren’t worth saving after all.
I also found my first piece that I entered into a club competition many years ago and received a crit for. The adjudicator had attached a single line of type to my manuscript which said:
Hackneyed. Full of clichés. Subject has been done many times before.
I was devastated when I read that and almost gave up writing there and then. But it taught me a valuable lesson; temper your criticism with kindness and encouragement. Make it like a sandwich with some positive comments at the start, the meat on how the writer can improve it in the middle, and a final positive note of encouragement at the end. When I’ve been an adjudicator, I’ve always tried to do that. The memory of my first crit still rankles!
I’m looking forward to the newness of everything, home, area, friends, and hoping it acts as a stimulus to more writing. But first, there are a few more cupboards to empty. Let’s hope I don’t find any skeletons – or maybe, as a writer, I should look out for them. You never know where they can lead.