A Writer in Training – Lessons Learnt

It’s fascinating being a writer in training; I keep finding out lots of things that I didn’t know such as it is going to take a lot more than banging out my first novel to get published. Particularly as I wrote that novel as a response to a Mills and Boon’s writing competition and therefore wrote the novel that I thought they were looking for rather than the novel that I wanted to write. I didn’t win the competition, didn’t even get short-listed, but I’m so glad that I went through the whole process because I have learnt the following:

  1. Just because I’m an English teacher doesn’t mean that my first attempt at writing will get results.
  2. I can’t shoe horn my writing into someone else’s formula.
  3. Don’t give up.
  4. I need to find a structure to  hang my writing routines around; the writing course that I am working on is as good as any.
  5. Write every day.
  6. I can sit down and write a whole novel within a very few months – not a good novel but a novel none-the-less.
  7. Said novel needs significant re-drafting, possibly leading nowhere other than serving as good practice.
  8. I have lots of ideas.
  9. Don’t give up.
  10. I should try my hand at a few short stories.


I wonder what else I am going to learn. Actually, I already know what I want to learn: how to use Wattpad. I may have a go at writing something to publish on there. So I guess that I’m going to learn whether I can write short stories or not. Or how to. Or possibly how not to.

Whatever, it’s all exciting stuff and I love it. And while I’m talking about lessons learned…


Dear Parents…

Ramblings of a Teacher

Dear Parents,

When you receive your child’s report this year, things might not look as clear as they once did. Having spent years getting your head around levels and sub-levels, I’m afraid they are no more. And as much as this might come as a shock to you, believe me, we as a profession were no more prepared for it.

It comes at a time when – as you’ll know – so much else has changed in our schools. Teachers the length and the breadth of the country have been doing our utmost to provide the smoothest and most effective transition for your child as we move from one national curriculum to another, but it hasn’t been easy.

It means that when you receive the report on the attainment of your child at the end of this academic year, the picture may look very different from the past. Children who were comfortably…

View original post 621 more words

Interview: Mary Miller


mary-millerMary Miller is the author of the short story collection Big World. Her work has been published in Mcsweeney’s Quarterly, American Short Fiction, the Oxford American, and other journals. A former Michener Fellow in Fiction at the University of Texas, she currently serves as the John and Renée Grisham Writer in Residence at the University of Mississippi. The Last Days of California is her first novel.

Curtis Smith: Congratulations on THE LAST DAYS OF CALIFORNIA. I really enjoyed it. In your acknowledgements, you thank your agent for wanting “to represent a woman who said she would always and only be a short story writer.” Can you talk a little about that?

Mary Miller: When my agent asked to represent me, I wasn’t sure why. I was writing short stories exclusively and had given up on the idea of writing a novel. They just seemed impossible. I’d heard about people working…

View original post 1,357 more words