Saturday, 28 November 2015

Never give up.

Three years ago I embarked on a creative writing course with the Open University. I must admit that this was the hardest, most challenging thing that I've ever done. I was used to being assessed and marked on my academic writing, but when it came to my creative writing, I didn't find it so easy. I was really demoralised by the mark I got for my final assignment. The most cutting comment was that the storyline was ' poor'. It's based on a true story of a man I met on a plane a few years ago, who had been in the north tower when the planes hit in 9/11, but the woman is a complete fiction.

For a couple of years I let this get to me and apart from writing my blog, I stopped writing anything else.

Then last year I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself and do something about it. So after a few changes, an author never thinks their work is completely finished anyway, I submitted the story in a Writer's Magazine writing competition. I wasn't placed, but I was given some really encouraging feedback that led me to believe that, with a few more changes, I might stand a chance if I resubmitted it. 

So, armed with a renewed feeling of optimism, I did just that. This was the result.

A Twist of Fate

Thanks for entering the Writers’ Forum competition.

Presentation: Manuscript layout is good. When someone is addressed in dialogue there should be a comma before and/or after the name.

Title: Apt for the story on more than one level.

Opening: This is good scene setting, introduces the main character, and contains a hook to grab the reader’s attention, giving us a reason to read on.

Dialogue: Good – the dialogue aids characterisation and helps to drive the story onwards.

Characterisation: The characters are well drawn and credible.

Overall: You have a lovely style and I enjoyed reading your work very much indeed. I’m short-listing this – congratulations! Should the story move forward to the top three, someone will be in touch to let you know.


No one did get in touch with me, so I didn't make the top three. but I didn't really mind. As far as I was concerned I'd done what I set out to do and changed it from being a 'poor idea' a story was that was highly commended. This was confirmed when in the March edition of the magazine,  was listed as having been shortlisted and highly commended. 

This has done so much for me on so many levels. It's restored my confidence for one thing. Unfortunately, I'm a bit too busy with my Open University degree to do much writing at the moment, but I fully intend to take it up again when I finish, hopefully in May 2018.

I'm a bit annoyed with myself that I let myself be affected by this in the first place, but I'm proud of myself for picking myself up and turning it around. 

Here's a link to the story, if you want to read it.

Photo's Isabel's own, apart from: don't stop believin' found at:-

Isabel Johnstone 2017 ©

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