Lucy from the Fiction Team recently caught up with Christine Bryant, our Writer Of The Week.
Christine – welcome! Can you tell us about your writing journey so far?
I’ve been writing on and off for many years. I had some poetry published and shortly afterwards, had several stories accepted for “My Weekly”. I’ve also tried writing novels, but they’re having a well-earned rest at the moment, awaiting yet more redrafts.
When I retired, I started writing short stories again and had some success in writing competitions. I was fortunate enough to have my first acceptance for the “Friend” in 2018 and I’ve been grateful for their help and advice.
Did you have immediate writing success, or were there hiccups along the way?
Plenty of hiccups! I submitted quite a few stories before I had any success, and I still have stories rejected sometimes. I put them away for a while, then re-work them. A short break often helps you see where they can be improved.
Have you always loved “The People’s Friend”?
Yes, I’ve always loved reading, in fact, and still do. I love to escape in a book, and I particularly enjoy historical crime fiction. Agatha Christie, Ellis Peters, Paul Doherty and Emily Brightwell are among my favourites.
I can remember my mum and aunt reading “The People’s Friend” and I’ve always enjoyed it. I’m also a long-time subscriber to “Writing Magazine” too, which has a lot of useful advice and information.
Your story, ‘Family Ties’, appears in this week’s issue. What gave you the idea for this story?
Occasionally, something I see will trigger a memory, as in ‘Family Ties’ – this was inspired by my needlework teacher in the late 1960s, who showed us how to make a tie for our ‘young man’. I started to think about what might happen if the tie was kept as a memento. Sometimes ideas come from my own family, and my grandchildren certainly help keep me up to date.
Like all of us, I’ve stared at a blank page waiting for inspiration, but something usually arrives. If it doesn’t, I steel myself to write a first page. I may not use it, but it often sparks ideas.
Notebook and pencil, or laptop? Kitchen table, or study? Blank wall, or inspiring view?
I occasionally use a notebook, I keep one handy for jotting down phrases or ideas, but I work mainly on a laptop. My office is a small desk in my room and I sit facing books and files. When I’m into a story, I’m somewhere else entirely.
And a P.S. – What’s your one top tip for aspiring writers?
Do persevere, don’t give up – everyone has work rejected. I find reading your work aloud really helps to highlight any mistakes or areas where it doesn’t flow well. Tempting though it is, I try not to edit as I go. Get the whole story down. You can always make changes.
To read more from our Writer Of The Week series, click here.