It’s easy to become blindsided when you’re writing. There’s the pressure of well-meaning family and friends, telling you that you should ‘write crime, because you’re so good at it’ or ‘you should stick to poetry, because prose isn’t really your thing’. There are the endless articles, explaining why literary agents hate prologues, why telling not showing is a terrible thing, and that adverbs are essentially the Antichrist.
I’m lucky enough to live within a half-hour drive of the edge of Dartmoor – so as you might imagine, I head over there fairly often.
We found ourselves there yesterday, actually – doing a lovely little walk around Hay Tor. For those of you unacquainted with this part of the world, Hay Tor is one of those classic strange stone ‘piles’ you get on the moor; though standing at roughly the same height as a two-storey house, it’s a little bigger than most.
I don’t know about you, but I find there’s something especially eerie about an urban legend. It’s that suggestion that it might be true – after all, these stories often originate from a ‘friend of a friend’, which immediately makes them more frighteningly believable.
I used to have a pathological fear of short stories. Not reading them, of course. I’ve always found reading short stories to be a joy, particularly when they’re written well.
I’m talking about writing them. Whether a 500 or 5,000-word limit, the prospect of sitting down and crafting something so precise, with not a word out of place, used to panic me on all sorts of levels.