The winners of July’s Word Weaver Writing Contest share their thoughts on the contest, writing in general, and other stuff.
Born in Glasgow, Scotland, she studied Social Anthropology (don’t ask) at St. Andrews University long before Will and Kate had ever heard of the place. Love brought her to France, then took her to Miami and Barbados for three years before bringing her back ‘home’ to Angers, a beautiful historical city in the west of France, where she now lives with her husband and two daughters.
She works all week in an English language school but for the rest and best part of her time she can be found in one of her favourite places, writing on her pet iPad.
Juliet likes to define herself as a fifty year old ‘baby writer’ and was recently diagnosed as being a wordaholic but is not seeking treatment.
1. DAN: Did you write your story for the contest or was it part of a larger piece or something you had written before?
JULIET NUBEL: I had written a much lighter version of this piece for my blog at the beginning of July. Then when you told us that the theme for your Word Weaver contest was ‘family’ I thought that I could expand upon it, filling in the details and ideas that I just didn’t feel could be seen by my closest relatives.
When I entered it for your contest I honestly never imagined that it would be read by anyone other than you, Dan. This is the dark, but much more emotional version of that original post, which I’m sure the reader will realise is my fictionalised, highly subjective take on something which really happened.
2. Tell us about your writing process. What is the journey from idea to published piece /completed story?
The journey is most often one where words and ideas swirl around inside my head, at any and all times of the day and night.
“It drives my husband and girls crazy when I’m in this phase because they can be talking to me and I won’t hear a word they are saying…”
– Juliet Nubel
I’ll be staring blankly out of the window trying to find my next word. Or I might be in the middle of preparing dinner when I have to stop stirring to remember something I want to write in an upcoming piece. We eat so late these days.
I also spend much longer now in the shower, just thinking and searching. What a dreadful waste of water!
At other times I simply have a vague notion of what I want to say when I sit down to start writing, and it all just seems to come pouring out. This is pretty rare I have to say. The glazed stare is a much more common occurrence.
3. Where do you do your writing?
I have two favourite places – the faded red sofa under the window in our bedroom. The sun warms my shoulders when I sit there to write in the afternoon. The other is in an old leather armchair beside the fireplace, with my feet up on the stained wooden coffee table.
In both places I have my pet iPad on my knee. It has recently undergone a delicate operation and has had a little keyboard attached to its nether parts which makes it much more comfortable to write on. And it looks very professional! Oh, one other place I love to write in the summer months is under the big, sprawling fig tree in our garden. That’s where the original text for this piece was concocted. I was out there alone that evening until the glare from the screen was the only light around.
4. Do you have a writing goal you want to achieve?
“I’d love to have my own column in a newspaper or magazine.
You know, the funny one on the second-to-last page with a cute, cartoon illustration depicting what I’m writing about and a cool professional headshot of yours truly beside my name.”
– Juliet Nubel
I suppose, like most amateur writers, I dream of actually being paid for something I write one day. And perhaps even making a meagre living from the craft in the future. That would be a huge achievement.
I also have several books I’d like to write zooming around in my brain. Whether any of them will ever see the light of day is another matter. I much prefer shorter pieces. Moments of life. Snippets. I’m definitely more of a snippet writer.
5. What helps you the most when it comes to writing?
What helps most is finally realising that I can actually allow myself to do this. The freedom to write, to blog, to enter challenges and contests such as this one, and
“…let people read what I have to say without fear of judgement
has only come with age, however. It’s such a pity because I have wasted many years not writing.”
– Juliet Nubel
I recently put up a poster in our kitchen which reads “Do more of what makes you happy”. Writing makes me happy.
In terms of subject matter, what helps me most is simply constant observation of what is going on around me. I’m not great at fiction. I have written a couple of pieces which were pure figments of my imagination but it’s not what I prefer. I’m a true story kind of girl.
Letting myself meddle in different styles also helps. On my blog I usually try to write in a fresh and funny tone.
I love to think that someone, somewhere, may laugh out loud at something I have written.
– Juliet Nubel
My text for the contest is certainly neither fresh nor funny. But hey, why not?
6. What does writing success look like?
I have no idea. Dare I say ‘yet’? I’d love to find out but I would absolutely hate to become famous and not be able to walk down to the shops in peace. Does this happen to writers or just pop stars and actors? If I have to wear a Daft Punk style helmet any time I’m asked to talk about my work then I’d rather just carry on blogging for a few followers. Mind you, I don’t think I’d recognise J.K. Rowling if I bumped into her in the street so maybe I wouldn’t need that helmet after all.
7. What are you working on now?
I’m still blogging but have been very lazy during the last couple of weeks because I’ve been on holiday. I’m also planning on pitching some ideas to a few newspapers and magazines this autumn. And I am really, really trying to sort out a thin skeleton shape for at least one of the books up there inside my head.
The problem is not a lack of ideas but a huge, messy, overwhelming stack of them which need someone to put them into some sense of order.
That has to be me, I suppose.
8. There are a lot of writing contests out there. What drew you to this one?
You drew me to this, Dan. I started following your blog through the wonderful Jenny Allen, who amazingly started following my blog a few months ago – thank you Jenny!
I did a couple of challenges and fun guest posts for both of you which really boosted my confidence.
– Juliet Nubel
And I think you know you are pretty good at encouraging people to sit down and write. So I listened to you and entered your contest. But as I said earlier I honestly didn’t imagine I’d be one of the finalists. It was the theme which really spoke to me. Family is something I could write about until the cows come home.
9. Have you ever entered a writing contest before?
No, never. This is the first time. I only started blogging last October and I still feel like the new kid on the block who knows very little of what’s going on out there. But I’m beginning to open my eyes, slowly.
10. Will we see you again in the next Word Weaver Writing Contest?
I’m sure you will. It’s hard for me now to give up on an opportunity to write. It has become something of an addiction. A pleasure-inducing, exhilarating, yet harmless and inexpensive drug!
11. Did you know the piece you submitted was special?
It was certainly special to me. I had no idea it would be special to you and I sincerely hope your readers find it special too.
That is one thing I am really no good at – judging my own work. I think I’ll leave that job to others.
Especially if they enjoy what I write.
12. What’s next for you?
Updating my blog. I’ve been ignoring it too much lately, poor thing. Then I’ll see what else comes up. I’m a wordaholic and I need my regular dose of words to keep me going, but writing is still just a hobby which I try to fit into a life filled with other obligations – a full-time job, wife and mum time, eating, reading and sleeping. In the future I’d love to spend all day, every day, writing.
Until then I’m just doing my best to nourish the deep desire to write as much as I possibly can.
Thank you, Dan, for this opportunity to do so.
Check out Juliet’s blog omgimfifty, HERE