Welcome to Clubhouse Chat page. Those of you who are not a member won’t be aware that the location of the Clubhouse is shrouded in mystery. The only way to visit it is via membership or an invite to the tearoom. Every few days, I’ll be sharing a conversation with all sorts of writers and authors at different levels of their writing careers. Over tea and cakes, or maybe a glass of something stronger, I shall be chatting with my guest about their work in progress, or latest book release.
Cafelit is an online magazine which posts a new story every day. To find out more click here CafeLit books are published by Chapel Town Books to find out more about the publisher click here. Today in the tearoom, I’m chatting to Cafelit writer, Wendy Pike about her entries in The Best of CafeLit 10. Welcome to the tearoom, Wendy.
Thank you for your kind invitation Paula. It’s great to be here. Is it too early in the day for a Pina Colada? If so, could I have a pineapple juice instead please? Failing that, a large mug of tea would do very nicely, thanks.
In the clubhouse we try to supply our guest with all their wishes, so I hope I have delivered. Let’s start by asking you, what made you write the story you decided to submit to CafeLit? Was it as seasonal call-out .i.e. Christmas, summer holidays, autumn, Halloween etc or just something you needed to get off your chest?
When something offbeat, obscure or out of the blue happens, an idea plants itself in my daydreaming bonce where it bounces around for a while before blossoming into a vague story outline. Naturally, this thought process has to compete with more mundane matters like: What are we having for dinner tonight? Do I need to buy the food to make dinner tonight? Lots of work stuff. And did I accidentally shut the cat indoors alone?
Then, when I really ought to be working or cleaning the house that’s the exact moment the story idea decides to burst to the forefront of my focus, demanding to be written, for it refuses to compete for headspace a moment longer. If I’m nowhere near my laptop, I jot stuff down on scraps of paper, hurriedly, in my scruffiest script, to avoid losing my train of thought.
So, when Father Christmas made a surprise appearance in my street, in lockdown, in daylight, in June (2020), it was the perfect bizarre, bewildering and unexpected happening to get me reaching for my laptop.
Santa Can’t Swim But He Likes to Holiday in Hawaii was the result. I believe it hands down wins the longest story title in The Best of CafeLit 10. Not that there was a competition for that. And it’s not really something to brag about as it breaks the general rule of keeping story titles snappy and as short as possible. Oops!
Did you use a writing prompt for your story?
No. But maybe yes, in a sense. A natural prompt. See above.
Did you write an outline first, or follow where the characters led you?
I’m not good at writing down outlines from the outset but I do have a general plan in mind. Occasionally it changes as I’m going along.
How do you create your characters? Do you start with a name first?
Initially I thought this was a tricky question for me to answer as I write about real life and real people. But when I thought about it a little more I realised although I don’t make up characters completely from scratch as you would in fictional stories, I actually do write characters.
I write about people from my perspective. The observations I make and how I see them. Any detail, characteristics or dialogue, regarding the person I’m writing about is an edit of information. I’m only showing what I want to reveal about that person. So through my versions of those real people, maybe I am creating characters, even if I didn’t realise it before.
Thank you for asking this question. It’s certainly given me food for thought.
Might I add that breaking news about the usually secret private life of a global, triple A-lister celebrity (Santa) is a huge privilege and meeting the legend himself was THE MOST EXCITING MOMENT OF MY LIFE.
Was your story told in your normal genre or did you try something different?
I love writing true stories or stories based on real life, if there’s a difference. Is it creative non fiction? I’ve still no idea. My usual genre, if you can call it one, is creating quirky, fun stories from real life.
I still cannot believe my luck that I am a member of the CafeLit community. I’m so very grateful to Gill James who saw something in my stories she thought was worth sharing with others when she accepted them for CafeLit. The idea of a new story to read every day of the year is so exciting. I love the diversity and not knowing what will surprise, engage or entertain you next.
How long have you been writing and what got you started?
My first published article appeared in Over 21 magazine in the 1980s. I came third in a national travel writing competition with a story about a holiday on the Greek Island of Skopelos with my then boyfriend (now husband). I was thrilled as my secret ambition was to be a writer.
A decade later that dream came true. I became a journalist, working as a part time TV news reporter. I’ve changed jobs a few times since. In my current job I still write, mostly newsletters and press releases. I also enjoy writing stories in my free time. They’re almost all non fiction. I haven’t quite crossed the line into fiction writing – yet.
What’s the one thing you would give up to become a better writer?
This would be easy to answer if the question was ‘could give up’, not ‘would give up’.
IF, and this is a big if, I gave up drinking tea, I could spend a lot more time writing rather than putting the kettle on but it’s never going to happen voluntarily! My husband has suggested intravenous PG Tips might save me time and him washing up. He worries my tea intake isn’t normal.
Thank you for joining us, Wendy. If you would like to find out more about Wendy’s writing please check out the links below.
Wendy’s blog: www.newswoozle.wordpress.com Twitter: @newswoozle
If you want to find out more about Clubhouse Members’ Books, don’t forget to check out the Clubhouse Bookshops too.