Help! I'm stuck in the twighlight zone world of People's Friend. I've been immersing myself in their magazine for a long time but even moreso this last week, and I think I'm trapped! I'm in a world where everyone is married with 2.4 children, where the grass is always green, the sun always shines, men are men and women are ..... well I'm not quite sure. I just can't get my head around what it is People's Friend want in their short stories. I've read hundreds of their magazines, so why can't I get it? What am I missing?
I think I've been overdoing it though as this morning I had the urge to wear a tweed twin set with pearls and a matching handbag and go for afternoon tea with lashings of ginger beer! No offence to People's Friend or their readers (I am one remember) I have fond memories of reading the magazine with my mother when I was a child. But having read it, and studied it a lot more closely over the last week, I feel like I'm stuck in a rose tinted nostalgia bubble. It's all warm and cosy in here - but is it me?
Why, oh why are People's Friend so hard to write short stories for? I think of a couple ideas that I think will give me a story that will be suitable for them, and I start off okay, but then my 21st Century cynicism kicks in and all goes horribly wrong!
I think a lot of my anxieties and reservations about writing for them comes from having had two of my short stories declined by them a couple of months ago (within a week of sending them out!) It doesn't exactly fill you with confidence does it? I haven't had the nerve to submit to them again until this week, when I was talking to Di, a member of the local writing group I attend, at Attingham on Sunday. She was saying she'd tried writing for People's Friend but had given up. So I thought I'd give them another go and posted a story to them. It's got no sex, no divorce, and nothing controversial (as far as I can tell!) But I don't hold out much hope for it. They are a tough nut to crack. But I'll keep reading the mags and practise writing in the style they seem to favour. You never know. I just can't get the little niggling voice at the back of my mind that's saying 'you got one story published and you might never get another one published' to shut up! What if I can't do it again?
But why bother? I hear you say. Well, I see it as a personal challenge. It gives me a goal to work towards, and, afterall, a good writer should be able to tailor their writing style to suit the target magazine, shouldn't they. But it's not easy. We're having a short story workshop at the next Wrekin Writers' group meeting, and I hear People's Friend is to be the focus! We'll see if it will help me get any closer to unravelling the mystery that is People's Friend.
I currently have two short stories awaiting a verdict with Take A Break (must chase those up as it's been 12 weeks now), two stories with That's Life (Australia), one with My Weekly, one with People's Friend, and one with the Writers' Forum/Weekly News competition. It's agonising waiting for the verdicts to come in isn't it!
Next I'm getting a story edited and ready to post to Woman's Weekly (bit nervous about this as I had two of my stories declined by them previously.) I know, I know - get a grip woman!
But I intend to get on with writing more short stories and tweaking the others that have been sent out but declined and sending them out again. It's the only way. If I don't write them and send them they definately won't be published. But if I send them, no matter if I feel they're in with a chance or not - there is that small chance they will get published, and that small chance is good enough for me.
Oh yes, the cats are mine. Cara on the left and Cody on the right having a hug!
Take care. Julie xx