This week saw the completion of my short story and poetry collection, which I’ve spent the past year working on as part of the NI Arts Council/Lottery grant, so hopefully it will arrive in the post tomorrow morning for them! As I printed everything off and put the work in some sort of order, however, I couldn’t help but think of something Carlo Gebler (who I referenced last week) said about writing – that the end result often doesn’t reflect the amount of work that went into producing it.
I’ve sent in 16 stories in all, and about 15 poems – not everything made the cut and in truth, the final four stories I included sort of stand alone from the main collection of 12, but were sent along as they were part of the overall work produced over the course of the past 12 months. I didn’t help myself, I think, by getting a flurry of inspiration in the past couple of weeks for stories, which coincided with an extremely busy time with my job, so another 13th story missed the cut, as it just wasn’t ready and I wasn’t sure of how it should end. It awaits me still.
But looking at the writing I amassed, I was both pleased and also a little apprehensive. Was it enough? Was the writing really any good? Would the Arts Council like it? In truth, I know the point of the award was to support me in developing my art – my writing – and to produce the body of work I proposed, which I have, so all has been fulfilled. I also feel more confident in myself now as a writer, and have been published a few times already this year, which I put down to receiving the grant – it motivated and inspired me to write, and gave me the confidence to keep going and to believe in my ability.
The end result though, does not reflect the hours of thinking time – the countless edits and rewrites – the scrapping of whole sections of stories, and the read-throughs time and again. I’m not saying the stories I sent in are amazing, but they’re the end result of a lot of work and through that, I hope I’ve improved my writing. That was, after all, the point.
With all now done, I wonder what the next step shall be? I intend of course to keep on writing and to use this experience to push forward and see where it takes me. It feels sort of odd at this point to have lost the ‘reason for writing’ that has followed me this past year – yes, I would have written anyway, but with a hectic 12 months in setting up my own business, I think that without the need to create the collections for the Arts Council, my writing would have suffered.
So, I will keep writing short stories and poetry – and submitting to journals and competitions – I may also try writing a novel. We’ll see. It’s been an interesting year though in my writing life, and I look forward to the next stage…