Our Writer Of The Week is Julie Goodall. Julie’s story, “First Impressions”, appears in our October 31 issue of the magazine.
Your story is a fun take on National Men Cook Dinner Day. Was the story inspired by the subject matter, or the menfolk in your own family? Don’t worry – you don’t have to mention names!
I was searching for inspiration for a short story when I came across the National Men Cook Dinner Day in the USA. It really did make me laugh that there was actually a day for this.
My husband rarely cooks as a rule, but as he has been stuck in another country for six and a half months without me, he has cooked for himself continuously.
He has cooked everything from scratch, and is now a far better cook than me. Which is honestly not that hard!
You write very well to image prompts. Are you a visual writer, seeing pictures in your mind as you write?
I see scenes in my mind’s eye and I can replay them from stories I wrote years ago.
It can be as vivid remembering those scenes as it is recalling something from a film or programme I once watched.
There is often humour in your stories. How important is it for you to make the reader smile, even if it’s a heartfelt storyline?
Well, a magazine editor once told me that I was their “issues” writer. My mind often drifts to the sensitive subjects when I think of story plots – loss and the tough challenges of life – so I have to balance it out. I think dialogue makes it easier to inject humour into a story.
For my MA, I had to create a “Writing Manifesto”, forcing me to think hard about what I write, and how.
In the manifesto, I wrote, “I believe you can go as dark as you like to tell the truth, but you need to leave people with hope.”
I think hope can be found in humour.
Can you write anywhere and at any time, or is your creativity dependent on certain criteria being met?
I would love to be like J.K. Rowling, who could write in coffee shops, or one of those wonderful writers who create masterpieces at their kitchen table.
I can’t even write with the TV or radio on, let alone anyone talking around me – I have to shut myself away in silence.
I can’t even listen to classical music, because my mind drifts away from what I’m doing and I constantly have to pull it back. It’s so frustrating.
Notebook and pencil or laptop? Kitchen table or study? Blank wall or inspiring view?
To be honest, I’m probably too lazy to write with a notebook and pencil.
I do have old notebooks full of novels, mostly half-written, in various stages of illegibility. But once I bought my first electronic typewriter, I never looked back.
I taught myself to type at the age of eight, sitting at the kitchen table with my “Teach Yourself Typing” book and my Petit typewriter. That self-imposed discipline has paid off a million times over. Typing is like an extension of your brain, I always think.
So definitely a “study” for the reasons previously mentioned. Besides, there are six people in our house, often seven, so I think that speaks for itself.
I don’t think I’ve ever had an inspiring view to look at whilst I write.
I dream of such a thing but, in reality, I’m so easily distracted that it would probably be one of the worst things I could do for my writing.
I’d never get anything done!
P.S., What’s your one top tip for an aspiring Writer Of The Week?
My top tip would be to always get at least one other person to read through your work before you send it off.
It doesn’t matter how perfect you think it is, or how many edits you’ve done. It may well be grammar-perfect and completely without spelling mistakes, but there can always be that one fact that you forgot to double-check, or you’ve mentioned August when it should read September.
You may have changed a name halfway through a story and failed to go back and make it consistent. Another pair of eyes will pick up on things that you’ve somehow become immune to.
Be patient and wait for someone to read it through.
For more from our Writer Of The Week series, click the tag below.