Julie's Quest

Hello, and welcome to my blog. My blog is about the trials and tribulations of writing, where we celebrate successes and commiserate our near misses. We tell it like it is here and will do our very best to help you on the road to being published and pick you up after the rejections (they will come!) Whether you are a professional or amateur writer you will find something useful here.

I hope you enjoy reading my posts and will visit again soon.

Happy Writing

Julie Phillips - freelance writer - member of the Association of Freelance Writers - member of the Society of Authors

Saturday, 31 January 2009


I just received a brilliant critique by Sue Moorcroft on a short story I entered in a competition. My story didn't win, or get placed, but the comments made by Sue were very encouraging. The main thing that I worry about in my stories - grammar - she said was good! She said that she found the story confusing in parts so I know I have to work on that.

I've never requested a critique before but I will from now on. It's well worth it. I feel like I am at least on the right track now, whereas before I felt like I was writing in the dark. Far from being disappointed I actually feel invigorated and eager to keep going. She reminded me that 'the joy of writing is that practising it - perfects it.'

I will take her comments on board and try to do better in my future stories. I will also go back to the old ones and see how I can improve those.

So, if you're sending short stories off to comps,and they offer a critique service, be brave and use it. You never know, you may win or at least get placed the next time you enter one.


Suzanne said...

Agree that Sue Moorcroft's brilliant.

I got to the final ten of the People's Friend competition (they didn't buy my story, buy I got a tiny mention in Writers'Forum). My main reason for entering was for the critique - I was hoping to find out why my stories weren't quite hitting the spot with editors. Sue's critique covered loads of points and gave an idication of what was worked and what didn't.

The RNA also offer a great critique for unpublished writers of full length romantic fiction. This is also well worth the outlay.


Suzanne said...

Sorry, meant '...gave an indication of what was working and what wasn't'.

Ooops (quiet blush).

Julie P said...

I think I'll be asking for critiques where offered as I think they can help. I'm hoping to send out some more stories over the next week.

Nicola said...

Hi Julie,

Nicola from Wrekin Writers here. Don't have my own blog and am irrationally jealous of yours - it's so good!

I entered the People's Friend competition in WF a couple of issues ago and also requested a critique. Like you, I was really encouraged by the feedback I received. I definitely think it's worth entering the competitions where a critique is offered - Write Space do this in their competitions [www.writespace.co.uk] and I've always found the feedback very perceptive and encouraging.

N xx

Julie P said...

Hi Nicola! Get blogging woman!! Mine's a load of nonsense, I just say what I think! I must get on write space. Oh hum, another website to distract me! Are you coming to the first short story writers clinic at the next meeting? I'm bringing my short story and the critique, I thought it would help if we read it and anyone else's who was willing?

Hows your new laptop? I'm jealous you've got one! I'm laying on plenty of hints to my husband and other family members in the hope they may club together and get me one for my birthday the end of Feb!

Take care! Julie xx

Nicola said...

Hi Julie,

Now there's an idea for a blog name: I Love my Laptop...

[As it's handbag size, I've taken to carrying it around even when I know there is zero chance of having any time to write anything, (like when I got sent to a conference in Leicester a week or so ago). Sad. Very, very sad!]

I'm definitely going to the short story clinic at the next meeting. I'm having a bit of a crisis to be honest as to whether I should be spending any more time and effort on short stories. I just don't seem to be getting anywhere - more to the point, I don't seem to be able to write the sort of short stories I'd actually want to read myself.

It's a great idea to bring the critique from the WF competition. I'll do the same and then we've got a starting point for discussion, as you say.

My big project today is to start my 'morning pages' again. Are you familiar with the concept? It's the basis of a whole 12-week programme created by Julia Cameron called The Artist's Way. The idea is to write three pages every day - of complete nonsense, if necessary - which should ultimately lead you to be more creative. I used to do it and it really helped to write things 'out of my system' but somehow it fell by the wayside at roughly the same time as I developed a bad case of insomnia (now, I wonder if there's link there...??). This time, there's an online community doing it - if you get chance, have a look: http://www.thebig-leap.com/the_artists_way_.phtml where you can sign up to receive the blog.

(You have permission to avoid me from now on if you think it's all a bit new-agey..!!)

N xx

Julie P said...

Hi Nicola! I most certainly not be avoiding you! I'd heard of and tried morning pages when I did the Open University Creative Writing course, but they didn't work for me. They said you had to get up early and write the first things that came into your head in the hope of freeing up your unconscious mind before your internal critic kicks in! I seem to have my ideas and the urge to write in the afternoons/evenings as I'm not usually awake enough in the morning. I use this blog sometimes as a way of getting things off my chest. I find it helps.

Ooooh don't give up on the short stories! I feel like doing that all the time, but I'm going to carry on to the bitter end! I've sent in over twenty stories to comps and mags and not got a hit yet. But I'm still trying, still learning, still improving. I know I'll get there eventually. It might happen next month - it might happen next year or ten years from now - but if I stop trying I'll never get there. Come on we'll get there together. The critiques and the sharing of short stories in the group is bound to help. I'm willing to make a fool of myself by allowing others to read my short stories if you are!!

Sometimes I look at my short stories and I read the ones they publish in the magzines/the ones that win comps and I think oh my God I'm never going to be able to write like that. But then I think, well they must have started from nowhere like me and they've done it.So I'll try as well.

A handbag sized laptop! I'm definately pushing for one of those!

Take care. Julie xx

Nicola said...


You're so right... I feel ashamed now for being so defeatist before!

By the way, I had a minor success this afternoon. I submitted a poem to the website Poetry Street which has been accepted. So, I'm a published poet if nothing else!

Have a good week,
N xx

Julie P said...

You see! You are published! Hang your head in shame for being defeatist!! (giggles)