A Chat With Jan Baynham

Posted on 4th September, 2015
Today I am delighted to welcome my friend Jan Baynham to my blog to talk about her writing. Jan and I met when we both did NaNoWriMo last November and we've stayed in touch ever since.
Jan is a former primary school teacher and Teacher Advisor for English. She started writing fiction after joining a local writing group. She became so involved in her writing that she then joined a university writing class and began submitting short stories for publication. She has been published by Alfie Dog Fiction, Creative Frontiers and Cafe Lit.

Welcome, Jan, and thanks for coming to chat about your writing.


It’s a pleasure, Sue. I follow your blog so it’s a thrill for me to appear on it. Thank you.


Firstly, tell us about your early writing and how you got started. Were you a child writer?

I have to admit that I’m not someone who has always written from childhood. However, I was very fortunate to have a wonderful English teacher in Grammar school who inspired a love of poetry and I can remember writing lots of poems. As a teacher myself, I always loved teaching writing to children, especially modelling it, so I suppose that once I had the time when I retired I knew that was something I wanted to do. At last, I could create stories for myself and spend time writing. The first thing I did was to join a local writing group and at each meeting a new title or theme would be set. That discipline of writing a short story to share with other members of the group proved invaluable for raising my confidence in those early days.


So far, you have concentrated on short stories. How did you get involved in that style? Are you an avid reader of shorts?


Towards the end of 2012 I took a ten week short story course, ‘Telling Tales’, at Cardiff University taught by a published author, Lynne Barrett-Lee. It covered not only all aspects of the craft of writing a short story but also the magazine market, selling your work and an important one for me, dealing with rejection! It was during that time that my first ever short story, ‘Sledging In Mansell’s Field’, based on a childhood memory, was published on Alfie Dog Fiction.

As for reading shorts, I try to read as many winning entries as I can when I enter competitions. I am always amazed at the variety of interpretations of subject matter, the style and the skill of the writers. I particularly like themed anthologies of short stories.

We met when you did NaNoWriMo last year. When did you decide to try your hand at writing a novel? And what made you join the annual NaNo madness?


I went straight from ‘Telling Tales’ to a novel writing course, run by the same writer. In hindsight, perhaps I should have got to grips with the short story format first and spent some time writing lots of shorts but I was afraid that if I left it and the course didn’t run for some reason the following year, I’d regret it. In fact, it was – and still is - the only one of its kind locally and I’m so glad I made the decision to take the course.

Trying to write both short stories and a first novel was one of the reasons I came to NaNoWriMo. I was neglecting the novel once the course finished in 2013 and time was dragging on. Although I couldn’t imagine writing 50,000 words in a month when I first heard of NaNoWriMo, I knew that if I committed myself to writing every day throughout the month of November perhaps it would help me ‘break the back’ of the first draft. It did just that – in fact I wrote over 52,000 words in addition to what I’d written the previous year! I could see that by immersing myself in the story, I was able to interact with my characters and get to know them properly. NaNo isn’t for everyone and I know that the editing may be harder because I haven’t edited as I’ve gone along but I’m so glad I did it. I met some very supportive NaNo buddies along the way like yourself, Sue, and it was so encouraging to know that other writers were willing you on to that finishing line.

How are you finding the change from short story-writing to novel-writing? You blogged recently about concentrating on the novel. Are there short stories niggling away at you, wanting to be written the moment the novel is finished?

As I mentioned in my blog, I do find it difficult to do both. I like to finish one project before starting another but, of course, if I waited to finish the novel, I wouldn’t be writing any short stories. When I meet up with writing buddies or take something to writing group, I like to have a short story to share. At the moment I am not writing any short stories so that I can concentrate on finishing the first draft of the novel. I’ve tweaked and edited a few stories already written to submit to new destinations but have not written anything new. I know that once the first draft is finished, I shall enjoy writing some new short stories and get that satisfied feeling of completing something in a relatively short time.

What are your writing plans for the future?


To finish the novel is my absolute priority. I hope to join the RNA New Writers’ scheme in January 2016 and if I’m lucky enough to get a place, I’d like to submit the novel for a critique.

- Many of my short stories seem to have a common theme of ‘moving on’ and I’d love to publish them in one of those themed anthologies I like so much.

- When I first retired, I wrote a book for my eldest grandson and his younger brother has asked when I’m going to write one for him. Perhaps this could be my next big project!


Jan, thanks so much for joining me here today.


Thank you, Sue, for inviting me. It was a lovely surprise to be asked and I’ve enjoyed chatting to you.

Jan's links:


Jan's blog - Jan's Journey Into Writing

Her Twitter page

Her Facebook page



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Comments (11)

Thank you for your comments, Jen. I shall make every effort to join NWS in January. I intend to have application done and my finger poised ready to press 'send' at 12.02am! It's lovely to hear that you are a member who has benefited from the scheme, too.
Thank you for your comments, Jen. I too hope that Jan is able to join the NWS. It is, as you say, such a valuable scheme.
Thank you for an interesting interview, Jan and Susanna. I enjoyed reading about your writing journey so far, Jan, and wish you continued success. Do join the RNA NWS if you possibly can. That scheme has been a huge help to me and so many writers I know.
Thank you, Patsy, and Christine for your kind comments. I'm glad you enjoyed the interview.

Patsy, I think it's so easy to wait for the 'right time' - whenever that is! - and on this occasion, I'm glad I didn't hesitate by enrolling on the novel course straight away.
Thank you for your comments, Wendy. I'm full of admiration of your short story writing success and I'm sure it will continue into your novel writing, too. Yes, I think joining the RNA New Writers' scheme will be just what I need. If I'm successful and I get on to the scheme, I look forward to meeting up with you and Susanna at next year's conference. :-)
Thank you for visiting my blog, Patsy and Christine. I'm pleased you enjoyed reading it. Jan was a delight to interview - so generous and open with all her answers. Patsy, I agree with you 100%. If there is something you dream of doing, you need to get on with it and do it. Thank you both for leaving comments.
Very enjoyable interview. Thanks and best wishes to you both.
Interesting interview.

Jan, I think you're right to do things when you get the opportunity. If we wait until we're totally ready and know we have time, we're likely to miss out on a lot.
Jan, it is a pleasure to have you here on my blog.

Wendy - thanks for your comments. I must admit I had seen the parallels between your writing journey and Jan's and I'm delighted you see them too. I agree with you wholeheartedly about the NWS and the Conference. They provide invaluable support.

I hope all three of us will be at next year's Conference!
Lovely to read jour journey, Jan, as it is very similar to my own. I also was at teacher, did a short writing course, started writing short stories and then moved on to a novel (juggling writing the two). You absolutely must join the RNA NWS next year. I joined this year and am so glad I did. It really gave me the push I needed to get the novel finished (I'm now waiting to hear from the reader). Also, you'll find the conference invaluable - especially the one-to-ones with editors and agents. Also we'll get to meet!
Thank you so much for inviting me here to chat, Sue. You've been such a support to me and my writing since we 'met' during NaNoWriMo. :-)