Tag Archives: The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar

Writing Wins and Woes: One writer’s story


I just finished a book by one of my more favorite authors, Roald Dahl. It’s a book of his short stories. I particularly enjoyed “The Swan”, a story about a boy being bullied by two other boys. It has the kind of fantasy ending I love in his books. I’ve read many books by Dahl and I love every single one of them. I read them aloud to my kids and they loved them, too. In case you can’t quite place Dahl, he is the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and James and the Giant Peach. But what I really loved about this book is that the last story was autobiographical and told how Dahl became a writer. It’s a wonder and fantasy in itself. Dahl never thought of becoming a writer. He says when he looks back on his papers at school, they contain little notes like he was incapable of putting his thoughts on paper, and his sentences were mal-constructed. My favorite note was that he reminded them of a camel. So, he didn’t pursue writing. He went to the British Air Force and did several missions in WWII. He had a few other adventurous jobs as well. But finally, he developed headaches and ended up working in America in the British embassy, a desk job. Here’s his lucky break, the title of the story. A man comes in and wants to interview him. He says he can’t fight in the war but he can write stories for the war effort and anything he writes the Saturday Evening Post will take. He’d like to interview Dahl. The man’s name is CS Forester. Wow! So he goes to an interview/dinner with Forester and he does poorly talking his way through his story. So, he finally says, “I’ll write it down for you. Don’t expect too much” which suits Forester. He writes his story down that night, sends it off and forgets all about it. Two weeks later, he receives a letter from Forester, “I thought you were only going to give me the facts. Do you know you’re a very gifted writer? I sent it off untouched to my agent. The Saturday Evening Post took it. Here’s your check for $900 and they want more.” I think this is every writer’s dream story. This incident made me wonder why do some great writers get immediately recognized and others just plow their way through the writing world with few if any accolades at all. Despite being all out envious of Dahl’s lucky break, I still loved his writer’s story. One of the things he mentions is that a writer needs humility. He seems to have an abundance of this despite his great talent.

So, on the note of great success and needing humility, here is my Whine Box for the week:

Whine Box
I received a rejection from Bastion for a story that I originally liked but now after reading their comments, I am ready to toss in the proverbial trash can. Have you ever had that happen? Sometimes editor comments make you see your story in an entirely different light. They kept using the term “flat” and told me it needs work and more showing and less telling. Honestly, I thought there was a lot of showing in this story. Also, after they described the story to me, it sounded totally preposterous. I’m sure that’s how they wanted me to see it.
I did get some writing in this week, and I submitted to two places, Daily Science Fiction and Guardian Angel kids. I have a story almost ready to be sent to Guide magazine and one I’m thinking of sending to Aurora Wolf but I’m not sure. Try all these places yourself. Here’s the links: dailysciencefiction.com, http://www.guardian-angel-kids.com/ http://guidemagazine.org/ and http://aurorawolf.com/ Remember if you like to write stories or articles for kids and want to submit to Guardian Angel kids, the issues are themed. Please check out the themes for each month. The deadline for the next window is December first and the theme is Wild, wild west.

Thought for the Day: Be inspired by another writer’s story. Also, take some lessons from their advice. If they succeeded, so can you.