Meet Patricia Lowther, our Writer Of The Week.
Your short story, “I Want A Unicorn”, appears in our first Christmas bumper issue. Can you tell us what inspired the story?
I think the toys we give children can send a lot of messages to them, including our expectations of them which are often related to whether they’re a boy or a girl. I’m a former volunteer with the Let Toys Be Toys campaign so it’s a subject close to my heart.
I’ll never forget how, just after my daughter started school she she realised that most people thought cars were ‘boys’ toys’, and although she enjoyed playing with toy cars she told me that she didn’t want anyone else to know.
This is your first short story to appear in the “Friend” – we’re delighted to have a Debut Author in a Christmas issue! Have you submitted before?
This was my second submission to “The People’s Friend”.
The first one was a couple of years ago and although that story was rejected it received useful feedback which encouraged me to try again. I have had short stories published in other magazines and in anthologies, as well as several non-fiction pieces.
“I Want A Unicorn” was one of those rare stories that seemed to flow and came out almost fully formed, with not much editing needed. It was great to have it accepted by “The People’s Friend”.
I felt sure it would find a good home somewhere.
What’s your own favourite festive reading?
I’m always reading but I don’t particularly have any favourite festive reading. I always have a book list for relatives to buy me for Christmas presents so I read something different each year.
I like it when Christmas pops up in novels. The presents characters give and receive can reveal a lot about them. It feels cosy too, to read about the cold weather when I’m curled in an armchair with a hot drink.
Any tips for dealing with writer’s block?
Have a break, maybe go for a brisk walk, put whatever you’re working on out of your head for a bit, maybe work on something completely different. When you go back to the piece you’re blocked on you should be able to see it with fresh eyes.
Do you have a specific time and place when you write? Do you set aside time specially for writing regularly?
My usual routine is to have a morning walk followed by a few hours writing.
My brain is definitely more alert in the mornings.
I do copywriting for businesses as well as creative writing. It’s good training for fiction because it helps with structure and shape. I sometimes write in the evenings too, but editing is always done in the morning.
Notepad and pencil, or laptop? Kitchen table or study? Blank wall, or inspiring view?
I’m usually on my laptop.
But I find it occasionally helps to take a break from the screen and have a scribble in a notebook instead. I used to write at the living room table with a view of the garden, but then my husband started working from home, which disrupted my routine.
So now the corner of our bedroom has been converted into a mini-study for me.
My desk does face the wall but I like to have pretty things around it, like nice stones, a picture painted by my daughter, or random inspirational quotes on post-it notes.
And a P.S. – What’s your top tip for an aspiring Writer Of The Week?
Put your inner editor away until you’ve written the first draft. Just get the words down, you can edit them into better shape later.
A rubbish first draft is better than an empty page!
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