Adventures in writing – a personal journey by Stuart G Yates: getting started by writing a short story.

The view from the learned is that when one embarks on this perilous journey of being ‘a writer’, the first port of call should always be to get a short story published.

Now, I have to be honest here. I’m not a lover of short-stories. Not the writing of them, nor the reading. I prefer longer narratives, one in which you can get your teeth into. I know some of you will go ballistic over this, but we all have our different tastes. But, it was something I had to do, so I did.

I wrote a short-story, based on something which had happened to me personally and which was pretty damned terrifying.

I won’t repeat it all here, but suffice to say it has a lot to do with things that go bump in the night. I wove a story around it, and it ran to around 7,000 words, which was fine. I then had to search for a suitable magazine that dealt with ghoulies and ghosties.

I found one, and promptly submitted.

Guess what – it was accepted. Elation followed! My first published piece. Of course, I didn´t get paid, but who cared about that? Certainly not me. Nothing could stop me now.

Next thing was, to get a magazine to take enough notice of me to want to hear my voice on a regular basis. I managed to secure such a little job writing for a local magazine, producing a 2000 word piece every month. And for this, I did get paid.

So, that was the first foray. Before that, of course, I had written a lot, but hadn´t really had the courage to send anything off. That first attempt with Jonathan Cape, and the rejection that followed, was sort of expected, but rejections always hurt, no matter how expected. And the time you spend waiting, waiting, forever waiting. Whoa. A current submission with Harper/Voyager reminds me of that. Over six months now I’ve been chewing my nails, and I’m almost down to the knuckles. I suppose that could be a good thing – not the nail chewing, the waiting; at least I haven’t been dismissed out of hand. It is still frustrating however.

I became a teacher late, having left school and not done very much. Going back to school was a revelation. One of the subjects I did was English Literature. The tutor said I had ‘an original style’, so that perked me up a bit. When I went to University, I was again complemented for ‘a particular flair for WRITING’ (their emphasis, not mine). Later, as I studied for an MA, the Professor said my style was ‘original, lively and engaging’. Perhaps I wasn’t going to miss my vocation this time.

I still had to find a good enough story to attempt to get published. It had to be something I believed in. And ‘Cold Hell in Darley Dene’ was. It was personal. Many of my books have been like that. Many of my books stem from ideas I had when I was younger. ‘The Well of Constant Despair’ for example came to me way back in the Seventies, but when I sat down to finally write it, I changed the location and placed it on Alderney, a tiny island in the Channel.

When my publisher suggested I might want to do a follow-up, my creative juices really came into their own. A follow-up became a trilogy. A ‘trilogy of terror’ ( a graphic for this on the ‘About Me’ page here)that I am actually quite proud of.

As I sit here and write this, my latest book has been published. ‘Roadkill’ is an adult tale of terror, but not of the supernatural kind. It is all too real. It is available on all the Amazon sites, and in paperback as well as Kindle. I think it is my best yet, and to answer some critics, no IT IS NOT SELF-PUBLISHED. I have never self-published, and have always sought out publishers who will produce good, worthy books. I believe ‘Roadkill’ is such a book. The story simply flowed out of me, and as I always follow a rough plan, I knew where it was heading. But as I wrote, more and more things came to me and the narrative simply blossomed. Even the ending changed. The editing process was long, and meticulous. The result is a great read, which anyone who enjoys contemporary thrillers will enjoy.

More thoughts next time, and if in the meantime you want to learn a little more about me, hit the ‘ABOUT ME’ tab where you´ll find links to my web-sites.

Thanks for dropping by, and carry on reading.


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