Our first Member Spotlight features Maggie Veness, who joined NVWG just over two years ago. Maggie has taken to writing like a natural and has discovered a true talent for short fiction and erotica. Though it has only taken two years to amass these amazing credits, Maggie has worked very hard at learning the craft, honing the craft, editing and submitting.
I submitted a few questions of my own to Maggie for this Spotlight feature.
What brought you to the Nambucca Valley Writers Group?
You'd have to call this fate. It began with a decision to attend one of Carrolline Rhodes' 'Writing your Life Story' workshops held in Coffs Harbour a little over 2 years ago. Although I had absolutely no interest in writing my life story, I was unable to find any course for for beginner writers. On the final day of the course Carrolline invited myself and others to consider joining the NVWG. I joined the group in early 2007.
Why do you keep coming back?
That's easy. Besides camaraderie, members generoulsy provide each-other with inspiration, encouragement, support, wisdom, and so much more. I feel like I finally fit somewhere, which I assure you is a very new experience for me.
You have found your writing voice in the short short story. Tell us about your writer's journey that led you to this discovery.
Perhaps I was naturally drawn to writing short fiction due to my desire for the excitement and stimulation that comes with constant change. I suspect my short attention span plus a strong Gemini influence are also factors here. I recall an early writing exercise which showed how almost any piece of writing could be improved simply by cutting superfluous words from the work. That made a huge impression on me. Very short/flash fiction is like cordial before you add water. Strong and bitey. I've come to enjoy the challenge of writing a satisfyingly complete story within the constraints of say, a 500 word limit.
Tell us about your first writing success.
My first writing success came around a year after I began to write, when I won second prize in a competition. It was an incredible buzz. I'd been working so hard at learning the craft. With my fourth (and youngest child) leaving home only last year at age 20, plus having been encouraged by my loving husband to quit work (YAY) I now have the luxury of time to devote to my first ever hobby. And ok, I'm addicted. There. I've said it.
What advice would you offer aspiring writers?
If you're passionate about writing and want your work to improve, you must practise. Every day is best. Ask around within the group 'til you find a more experienced writer who has time to mentor/critique some of your work. Draft and draft each piece 'til you think you might go mad, then begin entering every competition you can find. You'll be pushing yourself to polish each entry to the limit of your current ability, and even though that hoped-for prize might be still a while off, I guarantee your work will continue to improve. This is your reward.
What's next in your writer's journey?
I intend to continue to learn the craft and will keep working hard to improve. For now, considering the occasional competition success I've been enjoying, plus the satisfaction of now seeing my work published in Australia, NZ, the US, Canada, and the UK, I only pray that what's next for me is more of the same. So, can I see my name on a short-story collection? When you've fallen in love with words, anything seems possible.
MAGGIE'S WRITING CREDITS
**click on the links for the emags, and you can read some of Maggie's stories.
**Neat White Scar - Canadian emag 'The Maynard' - Dec '08 issue
**Letter Under Her Door - Canadian emag 'InMyBed'
**Foursome Parachute - emag The Australian Reader
The Right Notes - Litro (UK Print Mag) - Issue 83
Frozen Tits with Hot Butts - Skive Magazine - Dec '08 issue (buy or download)
On Durham Street - Slice (US Literary Print Mag)
He-She on the Train - Bravado (NZ Literary Print Mag)
The Thing about Waiting - The Erotic Woman E-mag
Complimentary with Surveillance - 1st place, FAW Jennifer Burbidge Short Story Award
Pilgrimage -Commended, FAW Jennifer Burbidge Short Story Award
Cocky and the Virgin Space - Highly Commended, Sminks Books Humorous Story comp
One Grape - 1st place, Positive Words end of year Comp
Chattles - Shortlisted, Positive Words end of year Comp
Alcohol with Slugs - 2nd place, FAW Nth Shore Comp
Just Read the Signs - Commended, FAW Nth Shore Comp
Runs for the Phone - Highly Commended, 2008 Scribblers Writing Competition
Blow the Snowbird - short-listed,2008 E J Brady short story comp
The Jump - Highly Commended,R Carson Gold Writing Competition
Chooser - 2nd prize,Victorian Eastern Writers Group