The late Margaret McKinlay was my mentor and friend. As the anniversary of her untimely death comes round I find myself considering some of the things she taught me about writing.
The most important was her remark about editor’s or judge’s comments. At this distance in time I can’t remember the exact words, but the gist was this: NEVER dismiss the comment out of hand. A busy person has taken time to read your work and say a little about it. That’s what they believe. Read it. Consider it well. Come back to it when you’ve left it for a couple of days.
Margaret was the writer we’d all like to be. She sold countless humorous articles, short stories and general articles. She tutored for Writers’ News. She mentored people privately. She was an outstanding crime novelist. She also motivated people in ordinary life and was hugely influential in setting up a young people’s centre near where she lived.
I can’t tell you how much I miss her insight when the going is tough.
However, I recently had one of those toughies when a judge’s crit used ‘good’ six times in eleven short lines: but did not rate the story. Instead of sticking pins in anything, I consulted a wiser friend and have read her advice carefully. I think, no more than that, I see where the problem might be. Story amended as suggested has gone off to an experienced ed for consideration.
Every writer needs insightful friends. I have a few and I appreciate them greatly. Thank you all.
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I always greatly appreciated the SAW competitions and adjudications over the years whenever I received thoughtful and helpful comments or advice. It’s the ‘woolly’ vague comments that are more difficult to understand!
Couldn’t agree more, Rosemary. Comments don’t need to be long-winded, just to the point. Anne
Oh, I remember Margaret well, and was very fond of her. Her advice and insight was always well worth listening to when I was in EWC novel folio many years ago.
Loved entering the EWC competitions too. Miss EWC 😔
Hi Christine, sorry you’re missing out where EWC is concerned. Is it a transport problem?
Margaret was amazing. Still miss her. Anne
Sort of, in that I can’t drive at night in winter…poor night vision.
That is a difficulty. Do you know about Writer’s Umbrella? It’s an online newsletter for writers that invites contributions and runs comps with small cash prizes. £5 per year for membership and it’s affiliated to SAW so you’d be eligible for their open comps etc. I can send you the organisers details if you’d find that useful. Anne