Tag Archives: Number Eleven Magazine


My goodness. Is it Friday yet?

Image: sonotstraight.com

Image: sonotstraight.com

This has been a busy week. The other day on Twitter I listed out all the various accounts I now have on social media: five email addresses, three Facebook pages, two Twitter feeds and two blogs. I’m now an assistant editor with a literary magazine, as well as the ‘owner’ of my own small business (can I say ‘owner’ when nothing, on the face of it, has actually changed?), and I’m still making time to write amid all the clamour too, of course. Writing is what I do, after all. Isn’t it?

For a person who tends, in all other ways, to be cautious, I can also be rather impulsive. The more important something is, the quicker I can seem to make a decision about it. Choosing a pair of socks in the morning, therefore, can turn into an angst-ridden melodrama; deciding to go ahead and set up a proto-business, however (albeit one that’s been brewing in the back of my mind for over six months) was rather spur-of-the-moment. Perhaps this is because the pressure of an important decision tends to cave me in, and I choose a course of action so as not to remain on the precipice for too long. Or, perhaps – and this is a little more comforting – I’m allowing myself to be guided by my ‘hindbrain’, which knows better than I do about what’s right and wrong and which doesn’t see the need for delaying proceedings

Muwa-ha-haaa! I am Hindbrain! Bend before my almighty Will! Image sourced from: indigenize.wordpress.com Image copyright: Extrafeet Inc., 2011

Muwa-ha-haaa! I am Hindbrain! Bend before my almighty Will!
Image sourced from: indigenize.wordpress.com
Image copyright: Extrafeet Inc., 2011

Whatever the reason, I’ve been making a lot of decisions this week and throwing so much caution to the wind that it’s surprising I have any left at all.

It’s exhausting.

But it’s exhilarating too, of course.

Yesterday morning, after I’d completed my story for the Wednesday Write-In, I found myself doing some reading for the literary magazine (Number Eleven, for the curious, in which I was published a little over a year ago; if you haven’t checked it out before, or it’s been a while since you’ve taken a peek, go and have a look. It’s gorgeous.) Once I’d popped off my feedback to the editor, I turned to my own WiP, which has been languishing for a fortnight, read it through – editing as I went – and added just over 1500 words to it. Then, I decided to take another plunge and create a Facebook page for my new business, Yellow Road Editing Services – and, because people are wonderful, it has been ‘liked’ almost sixty times in less than twenty-four hours. All the while, I was keeping up with the Twitter feeds both for myself and for Yellow Road, and keeping an eye on blog traffic, too.

It was a lot to get through in one day, and I’ve taken away a few valuable lessons from the experience:

People are wonderful. I have had so much support and goodwill shown to me over the past few days that it would, quite frankly, bring a tear from a turnip.

Getting up early in the morning is a great habit to have. I started work yesterday at 6.30 a.m., and kept going – pretty much uninterrupted – until 4. I’m usually awake by about 6.30 most mornings, which proves that you can train even the nightliest night-owl to be an early riser with enough cold water and torture… I mean, willpower and motivation. (And yes, I know ‘nightliest’ isn’t a word. But doesn’t it sound pretty?)

Who *DARES* wake The Great Hootowlio? Image: thefeaturedcreature.com

Who *DARES* wake The Great Hootowlio?
Image: thefeaturedcreature.com

Dividing one’s attention is hard. Yesterday, I tried to do All the Things All at Once. This isn’t usually a good idea, no matter what you’re attempting to do, and despite the fact that I know this, I still try to do it from time to time. Yesterday was one of those times. I found my attention being dragged away from my WiP because I wanted to make sure I’d sent the proper Excel sheet to the editor or because I had to check one of my email accounts or because someone followed me on Twitter, or because… the list went on.

What I should have done – and what I will do, from now on – was take a deep breath and a step back, and realise that everything will get done in its own time. Putting myself into a frazzle is going to accomplish exactly nothing, and may in fact hamper my efforts to be productive. I’m going to get a wall calendar and block off the days, focusing on one thing at a time, and I think I’ll change my screensaver to a picture of the gently smiling Buddha, or something. As my sainted mother always says: you can only do a day’s work in a day. She’s right, as she is about everything.

And, of course, the more divided your attention is, the more your work – all your work – will suffer. And nobody wants that. (And yes, I know I just started three sentences in a row with ‘and’, but it was for emphasis. I can do this. I’m a professional. Don’t try it at home.)

So, in honour of May Day and its traditional association with workers, I’m going to resolve to work smarter and harder, and to love every second. Stress isn’t a nice thing, but it’s also a powerful motivator, and I’m going to try to use it as a force for good in my life from this day forth.

Really? Aren't you laying it on a *little* thick, now? Image: halliewestcott.com

Really? Aren’t you laying it on a *little* thick, now?
Image: halliewestcott.com

All right, all right. I’d better sign off here, and get on with the rest of it. Jeez, you guys are hard taskmasters.

Happy May Day!

Adventures in Podcasting

It’s a bright and sunny Monday morning here, and all is good with the world. I was up with the sun, ready to go outside and water our garden plants before the day grew too hot, and it was beautiful. The grass was thick with dew, and the air was already warm. I watched the water sparkle on the leaves of our plants (the rose we were given on our wedding day, and the lilies my father grew and gave to us when we moved into the house), and I gave silent thanks for all the love in my life.

Then I stood and soaked up a bit of the early sunshine for a few minutes before the dew started soaking through my unlaced trainers, forcing me to go back indoors. Finally, I sat at my computer, full of the joys of life, ready to write my blog, only to find that WordPress wouldn’t work. So, all the gentle, sun-dappled peace that had settled on my soul got flung out the window as I sat, fuming, at my desk.

Image: buzzle.com

Image: buzzle.com

After a cup of tea, and a time-out, though, all’s good again. WordPress appears to be working once more, and I’m Zen. Actually, it was a good opportunity to practice my mindfulness. Or whatever it’s called when you sit, impatiently, waiting for something over which you have no control to start happening the way you want it to.

Sounds a lot like life, right?


How was everyone’s weekend? I hope you all did at least one amazing thing and managed to cram in as much relaxation as possible, too. As for me – well, I got to do something really cool on Saturday. Two of my stories, ‘Killer Ink’ and ‘Ne Plus Ultra’ – neither of which have been published in print – were recorded in a podcast, which is fantastic. I owe this honour to ‘Number Eleven Magazine’, the editor of which organised the recording session in the beautifully-appointed Civic Theatre in Tallaght, in Co. Dublin. I can say now that it was a wonderful experience, because it’s all over and I survived it; at the time I was so nervous my knees were literally knocking. I did think that was a literary device, you know, until Saturday morning. It’s really not.

So, what’s it like to record a story for a podcast?

Firstly, we arrived in the foyer of the Civic Theatre to be greeted by an array of muffins and scones and chocolate-covered rice cakes and (thankfully) bottles of water. The first thing I learned was this: if you’re going to record a story, bring water with you. That’s probably something I should’ve remembered all by myself, but the nerves wiped my brain. Graham (Number Eleven’s editor) did his best to put me and the other recordees present at our ease, but we were all a bit skittish and scared. One of these other writers is a proper published novelist, and everything, so I immediately felt a bit better – if someone of her calibre felt daunted by the whole thing, then I immediately gave myself permission to be nervous, too.

What’s to be nervous about? All you’re doing is facing a microphone and reading a story without making too many mistakes. Nothing to be nervous about, right? Well. Yes – technically, all that happened was I was ushered into an empty theatre, faced with a large red microphone, encouraged gently by the two lovely people from the podcast website, and then I just read my stories in my best slow, intelligent, grown-up voice. But it was more than that, mentally. It was sharing a story with strangers, and you’re physically there to watch the boredom film over their eyes or the distaste creep over their faces, and you’ve got to stand there and take their criticism and disdain on the chin, and you’ve nothing but some flimsy sheets of paper to shield your head with as they run towards you, flailing fists at the ready…

Of course, I’m not being serious. The lovely podcast crew were so nice, and supportive, and encouraging, and enthusiastic – they’re genuinely interested in new Irish writing, and want to do their best to support literary magazines like Number Eleven, and that’s an amazing thing. But, in my head, I felt like I was squirming on a giant petri dish beneath the lens of a mighty microscope, being examined and prodded and poked and, eventually, discarded. I felt, truly, that my stories weren’t good, that they weren’t strong or compelling, and that everyone else would be miles better than me. I almost felt like apologising for wasting the podcast crew’s time.

One of the stories I recorded was less than seven days old. I wrote it last Monday, and spent the week tweaking and twisting and trying to perfect it. I made changes to it right up until Saturday morning – the typescript was covered with handwritten edits as I faced the microphone, so I’m amazed I could even read it – and, perhaps, it’s no wonder I was scared it wasn’t any good. It’s tough to give life to something so new, something untested and something which you’ve not listened to out loud until the day you’re recording it for a podcast (also, not something I’d recommend! Lesson two: make sure you’ve read the stories you’re recording through at least once, to check for tricky pronunciations or clunky sentences, and to ensure you’ve got space to breathe in every line. Word to the wise.) Also, both my stories were SF-lite, speculative fiction with a dystopian twist, perhaps, which is a genre I’m only easing myself into. I had a feeling most of the other stories would be beautifully observed, gentle meditations on life and love and eternity – and then I’d come in like a clanging bell, blaring on about overpopulation and euthanasia and genocide and psychotic, vampiric tattoos (for, dear reader, those are the topics covered in my tales). So, really, it’s no wonder I was a bit uneasy.

But it all went well. I read clearly, getting it all in one take, besides a few flubs which I’m assured can be edited out, and Sinéad (the lovely podcast lady) told me she enjoyed listening to me read. I’m sure she says that to all the recordees, but still. It was nice of her to say so. Funnily enough, too, it was ‘Ne Plus Ultra’, the story that was barely a week old, which I felt was the better of the two. But when the podcast is live, you guys can be the judge of that. I’ll let you all know when the stories are ready to be listened to (well, maybe. If I’m brave enough!)

Happy Monday, everyone. I have big plans for this week, writing-wise, and I hope the week that’s facing all of you brings you happy, shiny things.

So, we can all look like this!  Image: denisewymore.wordpress.com

So, we can all look like this!
Image: denisewymore.wordpress.com




So, yesterday evening, something momentous happened.



I’m almost too excited to tell you about it. But I will, of course.

Yesterday evening, a lifelong dream was realised when my first published story went live, on the (frankly, incredibly beautiful) website of Number Eleven Magazine. The magazine has just launched, so I have the double honour of being published, and also being published in a magazine’s inaugural issue. How cool is that?

Here is a link to my story ‘Animal Farm’ – but please bear in mind that it is a story with dark themes and dystopian imagery, and may not be suitable for younger readers. The magazine’s homepage can be found here if you’d rather just browse around the whole thing. I heartily recommend you do just that, in fact. The other writers published in Number Eleven are highly accomplished and talented, and their stories are all worth reading; as well as that there’s artwork to peruse and the sheer gorgeousness of the site itself. Waiting for the site to unveil was so exciting; we were promised something beautiful, and the editorial/design team behind it certainly did a marvellous job.

It’s a funny thing, when you finally get to see something you’ve written in print. Funny because you can’t quite believe it’s there after all these years of dreaming about it, and also because, if you’re anything like me, you read over your piece and think ‘Man, I should’ve changed that bit… and this bit… and what was I thinking here?’ Clearly, the story was judged good enough, and it was chosen out of a lot of submissions, so it has merit. But I also think that it’s in the nature of a writer to never be quite satisfied with anything they create. It may be a safety-valve thing, a guarantee that they’ll keep trying and keep striving, and never stop creating.

(I’d rather think that than the alternative, which is writers are all a bunch of neurotic self-obsessives. But feel free to make of it what you will!)

This is the first small step on a long journey. My husband felt the need to remind me last night that I am not in a race; this thing is lifelong, and so the steps taken will, almost by necessity, be small, and my progress will be irregular. But the only thing to do, of course, is keep going. Each success is worth so much in terms of confidence, and each one lays down a building block for the next. My efforts are by no means over now, though. I’m still submitting stories, of course, everywhere I can find a place to send them; if even one of them finds a home somewhere outside my computer hard-drive I will feel satisfied with my efforts. With every word I write, with every idea that strikes me, with every effort I make to write a story to a particular theme or to take inspiration from a prompt (if I’m entering a competition), I will come up against fear and self-doubt and regret and the old killer ‘I’m not sure about this…’; all of those things will have to be dodged, stepped over, walked around and ignored if my journey is to continue.

And I want it to continue.

Thank you to all those who read this blog, who comment on my posts, who encourage me when obstacles block the road and when the way is clear, who have supported me all these long months. I hope you’ll take the time to read not only my story but also those of the other contributors, and that you’ll continue to keep an eye on Number Eleven Magazine. And, of course, if you’d like to let me know what you think of ‘Animal Farm’, I would be very glad to hear your opinions.

Happy Tuesday! I hope you, too, have something to celebrate today.