Friday, 26 September 2014

Telling the Truth


Last week, I said that I'd give you the inspiration behind my story, 'One More Step', which is in the current People's Friend Fiction Special.

As writers, we are often told not to write too much from fact and usually, when writing short stories, I try and stick to that - just adding in snippets of truth here and there. This story, though, is semi-autobiographical.

It is about a woman who used to work in a primary school but who, after meeting the love of her life and marrying for the second time, chooses to give her teaching career up to follow her dream of being a photographer. The only problem is, the garage is full of memories of her old life - her folders full of worksheets and lesson plans as well as reference books. Although her husband wants her to empty the garage, she is afraid that getting rid of everything related to the job that gave her security after her first marriage failed, will jinx her ideal life.
With her husband's help, Trudy finally realises that clearing out the garage won't mean that history will repeat itself and they do the task together.

I wrote this story after having one of my teacake sessions with Tracy Fells. I told her I was having difficulty letting go of my teaching paraphernalia even though it was taking up valuable space in the garage. I told her a little of the background to my difficulty and she told me to go home and write the story (this has happened a few times now and she is going to want commission soon!) so I did.
 
Of course there are some differences in my own story: for a start I didn't give up teaching, I was made redundant when my school closed three years ago and just never went back to it. It was not photography I chose to pursue but writing although, like Trudy's husband, my own husband was one hundred percent behind my decision to change career. Finally, my lovely husband and I have been married four years not one.

Is my reason for hanging on to all my teaching things (even though I never intend to be a teacher again) the same as Trudy's? Well, I didn't know it was before I wrote 'One More Step', but maybe there is an element of truth in it - teaching was my security in the years when I was a single parent and maybe I'm afraid to let that go... after all, it's not as if writing would pay the bills, is it!

Now, I know you're wondering whether I have cleared the garage yet.


All I will say is that I've heard that the weekend is going to be fine, and we have no plans - so guess what we'll both be doing tomorrow?
 

22 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed that post, Wendy! It's always interesting to hear 'the story behind the story' and isn't it funny how often our friends and family can spot a story in something we tell them, before we've realised it's got potential ourselves! I think Tracy deserves an extra tea cake next time you meet up! Have a good weekend and don't forget to have a break to watch Strictly!

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    1. Ooh, thanks for reminding me, Helen - I'm going to watch it now.

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  2. It's always interesting to hear how a story came into being. Teachers are such hoarders! You never want to part with anything, just in case...
    How lovely that you and Trudy both got your happy endings.

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    1. I knew it had been worthwhile the first time I saw one of my stories in print.

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  3. I enjoyed hearing the story behind the story. All my teaching life I had worksheets and suchlike just in case and when I retired it was really therapeutic parting with the whole lot, not to mention the space I gained at home.

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    1. I shall try and remember that when I make a start on it.

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  4. I think the best stories to write and to read are those which contain a truth. Good luck with the clear out - watch out for spiders :-) x

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    1. Ugh... they are everywhere at the moment aren't they!

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  5. A lovely post, thank you for sharing the story being the story! I am a hoarder so I feel for you in relation to clearing out the garage - everything little thing always seems to hold a memory for me, so I find it really difficult to throw things out. At least your husband is helping, bless him :)

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    1. I didn't realise I was a hoarder - but I obviously am, Sam.

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  6. Thanks for sharing your inspiration again, Wendy. I know how you feel. I still keep my old engineering manuals and formulae tables.

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  7. What a lovely inspiration story, Wendy - I like the way you've used fictionalised real life to good effect!

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  8. I think it's about letting go of your past, together with all its memories. We all collect 'stuff', don't we?

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    1. That's exactly what it is, Frances - hard though.

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  9. Yes, guilty of being a teaching-induced hoarder, too! Though, I'm better these days, having 'retired'. But all writers are hoarders, aren't they? Those life experiences are what we delve into for plots and story ideas!

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    1. You just don't realise how much you accumulate do you, Wendy.

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  10. I loved hearing the 'story behind the story'. Oh, how I can relate to the accumulated teaching resources! I still haven't cleared mine which are stored in plastic boxes in a cupboard in the back bedroom. This maybe the inspiration to do just that...but will that one come in handy, perhaps? ;-)

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    1. You must be sure to let me know if ever you do get round to it, Jan.

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  11. This is a lovely post, and so personal. Thank you for sharing. It has reminded that many years I had a similar physical clearing out of stuff. I don't think 'm a hoarder, but somehow paraphernalia seems to gather around me.

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    1. Ha ha - that is such a bad excuse, Julia!

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