Selina Lavery completed three creative writing courses at The Writers College. She recently had two of her short stories published.
Tell us a bit about yourself. What made you sign up for a writing course?
I’m Selina Lavery, and I live in a Scottish seaside town with my husband and two kids.
I decided to do a writing course later in life. I wanted to be a writer when I was a little girl because of my love of stories, but, for some reason, I didn’t follow that path. When I was in my teens, I had success with a local writing competition, but it wasn’t until my two small children started school that I finally made the time to try a writing course.
I began with the Basics of Creative Writing Course. I loved working my way through the modules and my tutor, Helen Brain, was very knowledgeable. Shortly after completing the course, I stumbled across the free 5-Day Creative Writing Challenge and then the 4-Week Challenge on the Writers College Facebook page.
I loved the daily prompts. Because I live in Scotland, the prompts would arrive in my inbox every night, and I would lie in bed tapping ideas into my Evernote app while trying not to wake my husband.
The 4-Week Challenge reiterated a lot of the stuff I had learned in the Basics Course, but the real benefit was getting into a daily writing habit. I then signed up for the 5-Stories-in-5-Months Challenge, where the aim was to write a short story each month and submit it for publication.
Were you juggling work and family commit with the course?
I had to do a lot of juggling throughout the five months. I have two small kids, and I also work in the evenings. On top of this, I had lockdowns and home-schooling to contend with while trying to meet my deadlines.
I work better when a deadline is looming, though. I find that I make the time no matter what. It also helped to have the support and encouragement from my course tutor, Ginny Swart.
What did you find most challenging about the writing course?
It was surprisingly tricky to come up with ideas and then turn them into a short story with a beginning, a middle and a satisfying ending.
I would tear my hair out each month when it was time to send my ideas to my tutor.
What have you gained by doing the writing course?
One of my short stories was accepted by Havok Publishing. It made the longlist for the season’s anthology and was then selected for the Havok Story Podcast.
It was wonderful to get such great feedback and to hear my story being read on the podcast.
You can listen to ‘The Blue Zinger’ here.
'Having a tutor guide me through the process and setting deadlines appeals to me.'
How are you using what you learnt in the course?
I completed the 5-Stories Challenge in June 2021, just in time for the kids’ summer holidays to begin, so I have only managed to write a couple of short stories since then. Both stories I wrote with Havok in mind and one of them has been accepted for publication.
My goal is to get into a daily writing habit again – it felt like I fell off the wagon during the school holidays – and to set deadlines for myself so that I will be able to produce short stories more regularly for submission to magazines and competitions.
What advice do you have for anyone considering doing a Writers College course?
As my mother-in-law once told me: ‘Fortune favours the brave.’ I had my doubts when considering the 5-Stories Challenge, as I didn’t have enough faith in myself that I could write a short story for publication.
Now that I have had two short stories accepted, and one of them selected for a podcast, I am so glad that I took the plunge and am amazed at how far I have come in such a short time.