Having a go – SWC Member’s Webpost by Tony Beekman #1
My short stories are written for fun and I continue with full-time employment. It is heartening to now have over a dozen of my tales published, but I would regard myself as very much a “developing” writer. I am also conscious that the Scottish Writers’ Centre has many accomplished authors. I do not propose, therefore, to attempt to teach Pythagoras how to draw triangles. Instead, for my first post, I would like to offer a few thoughts on the love of writing, enthusiasm and having a go. I hope that I might thereby encourage fellow students of Pythagoras to plot the lines of new triangles with different angles.
My earliest experience of having a go at getting a piece in a magazine was in first year at the junior seminary I attended for my secondary schooling. When I discovered that there was an annual student magazine, I was determined that I was getting a story in it. My strategy was to write and submit a story a day for a fortnight in the hope that one of them would be accepted. Not a strategy proper publishers would be happy with but it worked on that occasion. My gory story about Slasher the cheetah terrorising a village duly appeared in print. In fifth year, I got to edit the magazine and, a few decades later, this is still one of my happiest memories.
By that fifth year, I had developed my enthusiasm for writing further, although I perhaps took it too far sometimes. I had read George Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London and was impressed. One night, I arranged for a fellow student to let me out of the dormitory via a fire escape door late at night and I spent the night sleeping outside, emulating the great writer. I found some cardboard to lie on and some old curtains to cover me but I was still frozen and eventually cheated a bit by moving to a porch area at the back where I at least had a roof over me but was still open to the elements on two sides. I was relieved to climb back up the stairs the next morning to be let back in the fire escape door with the authorities none the wiser.
As an adult, I still wrote stories and would occasionally send them off to magazines or competitions, only for them to sink without trace. Later, I took a friend’s advice to send my story about a fairer world after a second financial crash to Scottish Left Review, even though the magazine didn’t usually publish fiction. I was delighted that the story was accepted and I followed this up with stories in Lallans, the magazine of the Scots Language Society, and other outlets. Here I am today, still writing and now having a go at an SWC webpost.