Writer Of The Week: Jennifer Gregory

Jennifer Gregory is our Writer Of The Week.

You can read her story, “Comfort and Joy”, in our bumper Christmas issue. It’s sale now!

Readers will need tissues nearby when they read your Christmas story. Was it difficult to strike the right balance?

Yes, it was quite difficult because, although I was writing about my character’s grief and sense of loss, I wanted the ending to be uplifting without being glib or sentimental.

I was very conscious, when writing the story, that while my character is fictional, many thousands of real people have suffered the agony of losing loved ones unexpectedly this year.

So, although I wanted a hopeful ending, I didn’t want to trivialise the pain and sadness of such loss.

How have you stayed inspired this year?

In some ways I’ve felt more inspired to write during this difficult year. Writing is a welcome escape from the news with its depressing statistics.

In fiction you can control the narrative in a way you can’t in real life!

Are you currently working on any writing projects?

I’ve got a couple of ideas for short stories floating around in my head but I haven’t actually started writing anything at the moment.

Like many writers, I’d love to try writing something longer.

When did you first realise you’d like to be a writer?

I’ve always wanted to write. I started writing little stories when I was very young – almost as soon as I could read!

As I grew older though and studied English literature I became intimidated by reading the great writers. Because I knew I could never approach their standards, I stopped writing for years.

It’s only relatively recently that I’ve realised that you don’t necessarily have to be Jane Austen or George Eliot to be able to entertain readers and give them pleasure.

Notepad and pencil or laptop? Kitchen table or study? Blank wall or inspiring view?

I write straight on to a laptop, although I do start by scribbling down ideas and whole paragraphs in a notebook as thoughts occur to me.

I also do a lot of editing on screen until I’m satisfied with what I’ve written.

I have a very small desk in a corner of a room that’s quiet and private. It faces a blank wall, so there’s no view to distract me, but it’s quite cosy.

And a P.S. – What’s your one top tip for an aspiring Writer Of The Week?

I feel a bit presumptuous to be offering advice to others, since I still consider myself to be very much a novice writer.

Apart from reading as much as you can, especially in the markets you want to write for, the most important thing is just to start writing.

I’m very good at procrastinating but once I’ve made a start I find that, magically, ideas do come. But if you want to be a writer you do have to write!

For more from our Writer Of The Week series, click the tag below.

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.