About

paula-reading

I was born in London but when I was 18 months old, my parents moved out and I’ve lived in small country towns pretty much ever since. When I was eight we moved to South Wales, where I lived until I left for university. I graduated from Chichester University when it was still Bishop Otter College, with a degree in English Literature with Religious Studies and have spent my adult life in the West Country.

At my first job interview, I answered “where do you see yourself in 10 years” with “writing” as opposed to “progressing in your company.” Didn’t get that job but didn’t become a writer either. Paying the bills, building a career, raising a family – yada yada. In 2015, I decided to change. I entered a competition, posted stories on Facebook, signed up to do Nanowrimo (write a novel in a month) and a Flashnano challenge: 30 days of short pieces. By 2nd November, I decided I was mad. I had my novel outline, but the prospect of writing 50000 words while working full-time, ferrying teenagers, remembering to talk to my husband and running a home seemed impossible. I took my laptop on train journeys, wrote in my lunch break, ignored all but the most essential housework. On one train journey a young woman behind me read over my shoulder as I typed and started a conversation. I was so deep in 1943 that when she spoke, I screamed out loud – just a little embarrassing. Originally, I wasn’t convinced I would be able to summon up one story let alone more than thirty. But the truth is that although coming home from work after a bad day, driving offspring around, meeting my daily Nanowrimo target and trying to think up a story including the word “orange” seemed too much – I got on with it anyway. Meanwhile in the background drums and pianos were practised, teenagers & husband offloaded and dinners burned. At the end of November, with my husband’s support and encouragement from friends, I’d written 50000 words (just), all 30 shorts plus a few more. I felt more relaxed and fulfilled that I have done for years. The flashnano challenge was over and I missed it so much I set myself a different one – an advent calendar of flash fiction. I put 24 words in a jar (candle, angel etc) and I pulled one out each day and wrote a little piece prompted by each one. I just don’t want to lose the momentum. I have learned that all the excuses I made (too much to do, too much noise, everyone will be annoyed) were simply excuses.

I won the Mayor’s Award in Blandford Rotary Short Story Competition in 2016.

 

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any material from this blog without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Paula Harmon and Paula Harmon Downes with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

5 thoughts on “About

  1. Nothing like a prompt to challenge you and keep you motivated is there?

    I love a word or first line prompt and where your imagination takes you. xx

    Like

    1. goodness knows what happened! But I think I meant to say that I liked your page and what you were tackling. The great thing about writing is the ability to explore your own feelings and look at them from another angle and it’s wonderful when you read something someone else has written and say “yes! I get that”.

      Like

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