The Edinburgh International Book Festival is on August 12 to 28. It’s the 11th year of Story Shop, the strand I’m part of. Story Shop gives local writers a platform to reach audiences by reading stories. I’ll be reading The First Appointment in which Lynn and Audra go to the doctor. It’s not a usual appointment. Or maybe it’s Lynn and Audra that are unusual.
Story Shop is on every day of the festival and takes place in the Spiegeltent at 15:00. Sometimes, it’s really busy with people having coffee and cake, sometimes it’s Story Shoppers and their friends. If you’re anywhere near Charlotte Square at 15:00, pop in. Whomever is on the stage will appreciate your support. Read the announcement.
I don’t yet know what date I’ll be reading: update to follow.
Last year I achieved five of seven goals. This year, I’ve changed my goals a little and some of last year’s goals, sending a story out at least five times before retiring it for example, is now just part of the process. Likewise, I now assume that if I write a story, I’ll send it somewhere, so writing ten stories implies submitting ten stories. I’ve realised that it’s not realistic to write one per month – some months I don’t write – but ten over the year should be doable, even if I’m working on a novel.
This is what I’d like to achieve this year:
- Get four stories published. One down, three to go. I’ve got six stories out at the moment: one’s in the second sift, one’s in a competition I do not expect it to win, one I won’t hear about and the other three could go either way. I’ve got new markets lined up for most of them so I can send them out again as soon as they get rejected.
- Make £150 from fiction. To do that, I’m submitting to paying markets only, and starting with ones that pay at least $50 per story.
- Write (and submit) ten short stories. Super-flash stories (100 words or shorter) don’t count. I’m planning three long ones (5-6K)*, three of ‘literary’ length (2K)**, and four flash pieces (<1K)***.
- Do four spoken performances. I don’t have anything lined up so far so I might struggle to meet this.
- Do Story Shop. I didn’t get in last year. This year, I really, really want it. If I get it, it counts as one performance.
- Complete novel number 1. In progress.
- Start novel number 2. It (and another, shorter YA novel) is plotting itself quietly in the back of my head.
- Collaborate. Working with someone else will be fun: I think it might change how I work. And I know who I’m doing it with so this one should be easy.
- Get an agent. The main purpose of this year is to find an agent. This one task is more difficult than all the other goals put together.
I know what I need to do and it can be summed up like this: write, submit and read. Business as usual, then.
* Two of which already have working titles: Jonah’s Story and Fingers in the Dirt. Watch this space as they get written.
** The first one of these, The Foods of Lara’s Loves, is looking for a market.
*** One for each performance.
I had targets and goals. A plan. It’s been four months since my last update so it’s time to have a hard look at where I am against it.
- Send out one new story per month: it kind of depends on how you count it, but I think I’m still behind by one story. Editing. I need to finish editing the three stories that are sitting in my pile, waiting to be finished and submitted.
- Send each story out at least five times before retiring: in progress. I have five stories doing the rounds at the moment.
- Start plotting novel: I won’t claim that it’s entirely complete, but I’m far along enough that I can get started.
- Start writing novel: started. I’ve got some 15,000 words which means I’m behind.
- Apply to Story Shop: total fail. My story did not get selected. Better luck next year.
- Do three spoken performances: three down, one to go.
That was as far as I got the last time I took stock. Since then I’ve added goals…
- Make £75 from writing: done. Once the cheques arrive.
- Get four stories published: three down, one to go. (The Wolf at the Door was on Flashes in the Dark in May, Foundling will be in New Writing Scotland 30 in august, and Salanntúr will be in The Seven Wonders of Scotland in October.) I’ve got five months to sell one more story. Wish me luck!
My friend Helen Jackson was one of the Story Shop performers this year. Story Shop is a free Book Festival event run by UNESCO City of Literature. It gives local talent an opportunity to read their story to an audience. They also get a day pass to the writer’s retreat, the tent where all the authors hang out. (How cool is that?)
Helen had a great day and a good turn out for the reading of her two-part story Drawing the Line. When I quizzed her about it over coffee she issued me with a challenge:
Next year, you do it.
How could I say no? I needed a definate and ambitious goal.
All you have to do to be eligible to submit a story to Story Shop is get something published. Then you need to write a story that the Story Shop editors want to feature. That’s all. Yeah.
Step the first is to get published. You don’t have to have a book published (phew) but need to have something in a publication where they have selection criteria. An anthology works, as does printed magazines or other sources where they pay for your work. So, over the next few months I’ll be tidying up and submitting short stories. If I don’t get published by the end of May next year, I won’t be eligible to apply for Story Shop. Must meet that goal.
Wish me luck.