ShortbreadStories: The Blog

Read. Discuss. Blog.

Winning Shortbreader of the Year Award

/by Diane Dickson/

Well, the first thing I have to say is that I am absolutely blown away at being chosen as Shortbreader of the Year 2011. There are so many super writers and thoughtful readers and commenters on the site that I am amazed that so many members find value in what I have written and also appreciate my thoughts on their work.  Everybody has been really lovely and so all I can say is thank you. In the time that I have been a member of ShortbreadStories it has become a really important  part of my life, I pop in several times most days and I consider the members, and the site team, to be real friends.

Until just before I joined ShortbreadStories I hadn’t actually written any short stories as such. As a child I always enjoyed writing essays and then later I wrote a really dreadful “novel”, really, really dreadful.  I read it a couple of years ago just before I binned it, and felt as though I should write and apologise to the places I had sent it for consideration.  I have always written poetry, that’s how it started for me and I still love it.  Then my daughter, who was trying to develop a graphic design and illustration business, asked me to write something for her to illustrate. And so Bert The Fox was born, a quartet of children’s rhyming stories.  That led to a couple of children’s books which in turn took me to a writer’s web site, not Shortbread, not yet. 

On that site they have a little flash fiction competition every week and I entered a very short piece that had simply popped up one day out of nowhere.  Readers liked it and I had really enjoyed writing it and that led me to ShortbreadStories. I was an instant addict and it was just as if the stories had been sitting waiting for a place to go and out they all came, and thank heavens still are. 

I love the fact that the thing has to be whole and complete no matter how short it is.  I really enjoy the challenge of building background with hints and suggestions and of creating convincing characters that must “live” even though they have to leap onto the stage fully formed. 

All my writing is seat of the pants, quite often I will just “get” one sentence and it bashes me on the side of the head and the story grows from there.  It’s often just as I’m falling asleep and I have heard quite a few people have the same experience. The Muse having a laugh I think. I have to creep out of bed, jot a note, back to bed. Bing! Another sentence, out of bed, jot a note and so it goes on…

When I start to write I have to just hope for the best, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t and if it doesn’t I can’t force it.  It’s a hit and miss method and I admire those who plan and plot and weave intricate sagas but up to now I haven’t been able to do that.  On the other hand I love it when characters won’t behave and go diving off doing things that I wasn’t expecting. 

Mostly I think my inspiration is simply from observation. I’m a real people watcher; nosy my children call it, but I can’t help wondering what’s going on whenever I have a glimpse of still life from a train or a car journey.  I’ve been lucky enough to travel a fair bit and that’s a great source of inspiration as well.

I don’t think of a genre really at the start, it just develops with the story and I am often shocked at the grim stuff that seems to lurk in my mind.  I probably need therapy… but I really do enjoy the dark, nasty end of the writing spectrum. I enjoy writing descriptive passages and deep dark woods, rainy nights and slimy collapsing graves are often fertile ground for the imagination. 

I have a problem with names, I can never decide what people should be called and for some reason have a preponderance of Jennies.  Titles are another bugbear I am hopeless at them and have actually had the comment; “I read this in spite of the title” not from any of the lovely Shortbreaders I hasten to add.

I do try to write every day as I really enjoy the whole experience. I like working on the computer and love to type. For me the feeling when a story is working, and flowing onto the screen, is nothing short of magical and I do truly mean that.  I have written some longer stuff now but my love of the short story format is here to stay.

I really value ShortbreadStories, it is the friendliest site I know of, the members are kind, supportive and encouraging and it’s wonderful to watch the site develop and grow, and to see that every day there are new members joining.  Long may it continue…


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