“Friend” debut author Vanessa’s Jarrett is our Writer Of The Week.
Her touching story, “Patching Things Up”, is in this week’s issue.
Tell us where the idea for “Patching Things Up” came from?
I’m a hoarder of newspaper cuttings that I think might form the basis of a story.
“Patching Things Up” was inspired by an article about a family who had a memorial quilt made from the striped shirts of their father.
Several years later I took the article along to a short story day course run by the fabulous Della Galton. There I developed the structure and characters for the story.
But I only picked it up about a year ago to actually sit down and write it in full. Sometimes I find you just have to wait for the right moment to start writing a particular story.
How long have you been writing fiction?
I’ve been writing fiction on and off for the best part of twelve years.
I started writing romantic novels, but they didn’t really suit me.
It was only when I joined a writing class run by Brockenhurst College about six years ago that I started writing short stories and flash fiction.
I was encouraged to enter competitions and was fortunate enough to win or be placed in a few of them.
Who are your favourite authors?
I’m a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde with my reading.
If I want to switch off and be entertained then I want a slick thriller writer like Lee Child or David Baldacci. I’ll read those for hours at a time, probably consuming a whole novel in two or three days.
But if I want something to savour and read a little at a time, then give me a historical novel by Hilary Mantel.
What are your writing ambitions?
To carry on writing short stories and hopefully see some more of them published in “The People’s Friend”.
It’s always a challenge to get the right balance of character, story and emotion into a few short pages.
But it’s a challenge I enjoy, because I usually end up falling in love with my characters, and sharing their laughter and tears.
Notepad and pencil or laptop? Kitchen table or study? Blank wall or inspiring view?
Always a laptop. I have a physical disability that makes writing by hand a real struggle. Laptops have been my liberation.
I prefer to write in a café, library or train. There’s something about life going on around me that clears my mind and inspires me to write.
And if I’m out of the house I don’t need to feel guilty about the laundry, house cleaning or gardening!
What’s your top tip for aspiring writers?
Read, write and learn.
Read the kind of writing you aspire to create. Find a way to write regularly. Learn about the techniques writers use.
The best way of doing all three, for me at least, is to join a local creative writing class and enjoy the company and encouragement of fellow writers.
For more from our Writer Of The Week series, click the tag below.