When did you seriously start writing?
I’ve written for many years but became much more disciplined and serious about it when I met my writing buddy and critique partner, Helen, five years ago.
What is the biggest mistake you have made in your writing career?
Thinking that I, a woman whose youth dates back to the 1980s, could write a romantic novel from the point of view of a 21st century twenty-something. It was critiqued by the Romantic Novelists’ New Writers’ Scheme and I was told I’d got things SO wrong. Now if I write about a young woman, I set the story in the 1980s so that I know I’m getting things right!
What has been the hardest challenge that you have had to face and to overcome?
At the end of 2013 I decided to beat my fear of public speaking. This is a skill demanded more and more of writers. So I joined my local Speakers’ Club where we practise both prepared and impromptu speeches. I was recently invited (quaking!) to talk to my first writers’ group. They were a friendly lot and it went a lot better than I expected.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Mostly real life. It could be something that’s happened to me or I’ve been told about or a story in a newspaper.
Tell us about your book series Museum of Fractured Lives
I read a travel feature on The Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb. People donate objects which are symbolic of their broken relationship to this museum, such as a wedding dress, a letter or even a garden gnome. I created a fictional version of this museum in London and each short ‘flash novella’ in the Museum of Fractured Lives series is about one object and the person who donated it. In Maxine’s Story we hear about the far reaching consequences of young love. Karen’s Story is about a single woman’s quest to find a man to father her baby. The third story will be out soon.
Do you ever get writers’ block and if yes, what do you do to overcome it?
I rarely have writers’ block but sometimes I get stuck with a plot. Then I brainstorm all possibilities and go with the one that seems best.
If there is one thing that you would do differently in writing terms, what would it be?
I wish I’d taken my writing seriously years ago. Now I feel there’s so much that I want to do but never enough hours in the day!
How do you plan your writing schedule?
I have two writing days each week (I also have a part-time job as a computer programmer which takes up the rest of my time). On those two days I start work between 7am and 8am and write until lunchtime. Then I either go for a walk or go to the gym and then I do a bit more writing in the late afternoon. I am a morning person and work much better then.
Name future aspirations.
I’m enjoying my writing at the moment – it’s an eclectic mix of short stories and non-fiction. However, I would like to master the skills required to create a full-length novel that doesn’t have a saggy middle or a plot that seems to go off at tangents and end up in the wilderness!
What would you like to share with the readers of this article?
The advent of e-publishing has given my writing career a whole new lease of life. There are no rules about genre or word count in e-publishing (but the mantra about making your work the best it can be still holds very true!) and it is not as difficult as most people think.
I have learned a lot about publishing for Amazon Kindle over the last year and I’ve put all the information together in a new e-book, Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners.I hope it will inspire other people to have a go too.
Sally Jenkins specialises in shorter length women’s fiction and has also written articles for the UK writing press, such as Writing Magazine and Freelance Market News.
She blogs about writing and related topics at http://sallyjenkins.wordpress.com