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Sharing My Creative Writing For The First Time!

So I have done something that I find pretty scary: I shared my creative writing! Now I have to admit that I have been to a writing group but sharing within a small group of writing enthusiasts but with people I didn’t know is something I just find so excruciatingly difficult. I’m scared I come across as cliché, immature, or just plain bad. However,van amazing LGBTQIA+ writing group called The Wilde Ones started up where I live and I just had to give it a shot as I wanted to be part of a community again.

Now in this vein of trying to be ‘confident’ I thought I’d try some of my short stories and poetry on this blog as I like this space. I’m going to post my short story The Necklace (below) as it came 3rd in The Wilde Ones’ first ever writing contest and thought I’d take the plunge.

Let me know what you think! Can you recognise what I drew from in terms of inspiration? Can you guess what I’d been reading at the time of writing this? Ask whatever you like, but please be as kind and constructive as you can.

The Necklace

She told her to never put on the necklace.

It didn’t hit her immediately when she arrived home from work, though when looking back at this moment, memory has added a sense of dread and unease that was scarce felt at the time. After putting down her bag and coat, she headed straight for the kitchen and put on the kettle, as per her regular Monday to Friday routine. The only out of the ordinary thing was the large bouquet of flowers she’d picked up. Although they were to celebrate their one year anniversary at the weekend, the actual date was today, so she had picked up her favourite flowers, tulips, on the way home from work. The shock of violet was vibrant against the monochrome tissue paper wrapped around them.

“Olivia, want tea? Coffee? Livs?”

There was no response. She looked at her watch, thinking that it was unlike Livs to not be home by the time she arrived. It was at this moment she saw a mug of tea sat on the kitchen table. It was lukewarm to the touch. A running joke between the couple was about how she frequently forgot about her hot drinks, but Olivia? Never. She loved her drinks burning hot, and would refuse to drink it if it was even remotely cool. That was when she started to feel the first tingling of concern. She was often prone to overreaction but with the time, and the drink, no message…she was feeling rattled.

She started to head upstairs, flowers still in hand. Who’s to say she didn’t feel well, maybe she went for a lie down and fell asleep? As she reached the top of the stairs, she looked down the landing and stopped dead. Her own family portrait, in its antique frame was hanging at an angle.

Oh Olivia, no. I told you about this because I thought you could handle it! Thoughts continued to race but eventually the pounding at her temple downed them out completely.

With nervous sweat starting to gather at her hairline, heart in her throat, she strode towards the painting and looked behind it. Sam steeled herself against what she knew she would see, and opened the family safe. Empty.

The flowers dropped to the floor, never to be given.

She got out her phone as she walked towards the bedroom she shared with Olivia. Had shared. Walked, not ran, because she knew what she was about to find. Speed would do nothing to help, not now. She called an ambulance, gave the address, and said they might want to send the police, and hung up. Then, she selected her father’s number, who answered on the third ring.

“Hey Sam, everything OK? Your Mum and I are just sitting down to-“

“Dad. She found it.”

Olivia was lying crumpled on the floor of the bedroom. Her once beautiful, twinkling eyes were dull and wide open in terror. Raw and angry welts at her neck were clear even from the doorway. They were clearly fingernail gouges, desperation obvious despite Sam not being able to see the skin underneath her own nails. Sam knew the drill. The distress was clear on her Olivia’s face and the clawing would seem to indicate something stuck around the neck, though her throat lay bare. Again, Sam was unsurprised, though the repetition of events did nothing to ease the broken feeling in her heart. The necklace that Olivia, her Livs had found, ignored the warning, had tried on in front of the mirror, that damn necklace, Sam knew it would be back in the safe by morning. As if nothing had ever happened.

“Olivia found it Dad. I really thought she’d make it, that we’d make it. It’s our anniversary today, she should’ve been safe by now!”

“Not necessarily, love. When was the date, the time even, of the night when you kissed and decided to be together?”

Sam looked at her watch – that her early anniversary gift from Olivia, was still ticking, still alive when she was gone started to bring grief-induced rage until she saw the time. Rage retreated to be replaced by a growing numbness. 17:56

“6pm Dad. If she’d ignored it’s call just 5, 10 minutes  longer…” Her voice fades. The unspoken words clear as day.

“I’m so sorry sweetheart. There’s always next time, I’m sure that time they’ll pass.”

“Yes Dad. Of course. There’s always next time.”

She’d told her to never put on the necklace. She’d always told them.

 

© Kathy Hadfield 2017

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Time Away; Job, Loss and the Future

I received my degree last year. It was not what I hoped I would get but I will leave it at that.

I did, however begin my job at a large science journal publishers, which was brilliant. I moved to Cambridge, which I loved, I started the training which I loved, made friends at the company and genuinely enjoyed going to work. 

Seven or so months in and they decided not to renew my contract to a permanent one and said I should maybe reconsider my career pathway. While I respect their right and decision on my contract with them, I disagree wholeheartedly with the latter sentiment. I even said so at the time. 

I loved my job. And despite what they said and what it all implies, I was *good* at my job. I needed some adjustment time, I admit that and it was longer than most (not all, I point out). However, they knew that when they hired me. I have some medical concerns that mean I sometimes will need extra time.

Anyway. This post isn’t about bitterness. It’s about what it did for me. It did give me 8 month intensive experiece or proofing, editing, peer review, team work, targets, multi-tasking, dealing with high stress customers, solving problems with said clients when there were language barriers etc etc. I came out of this with a whole lot more than I went in. 

And not just that. Most importantly, they gave me the grit and determination to know that working in STM/academic/research publishing is what I want. It is my end goal and that is good as it gives m something to aim for. Maybe it’ll take me a little while to get my foot through another company door but I know that is what I want. I will keep finding opportunities to increase my skill set. So although it was not the ideal situation, I am trying to remain positive.

I a obviously working in the meantime and have stayed in my new city as I have friends here and I settled in really well.

I think this is something very important for every young person in their early career (or career hunting). Deciding what you are aiming for, what you want, gives you the will and direction to look for the right experiences to enhance yourself (and your CV)

One final note: I have even signed up with a recruitment company that works specifically in finding their candidates work within publishing; you can even specify the types of publishing, locations etc. My contact there has given me other places to look for help and advice on graduates getting into publishing. Basically then, I think sometimes you need to not only be always looking for your passion but looking for places other than just the average job sites. To get where you want to in life, all help is good help!

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