The Folder of Shame

Buried deep in My Documents, past the Works in Progress, beyond the notes and bios and summaries, there is the Folder of Shame.

The Folder of Shame is where I put anything that I really hate. If it were a room, it would be an oubliette – as Hoggle might put it, “a place you put stories to forget about ’em!” (Which I suppose makes me Jareth. Well, I’m not complaining).


Although I could never be that fabulous

The Folder of Shame is full of poems, short stories, and the beginnings of novels that I threw together in a bout of horror, despair, and a desperate attempt to shake off writer’s block, and what’s strange is that nearly everything in the Folder of Shame has been read by someone.

I’m usually fairly protective of my writing. I won’t let people read the good stuff until I’ve at least got a complete and coherent first draft. But the Folder of Shame contains, in the most part, work for competitions. The pattern is the same each time around. I’ve found a writing competition that I’ve been determined to enter. Then I’ve realised, a day before the deadline, that my head is full of tumbleweed, my vocabulary is all gone bad-like, and I have no chance of producing anything decent.

At this point, a sensible person might quit and resolve to be better-prepared next time around. But I have never been particularly sensible when it comes to my writing.

So, I write some Wrongs – terrible, poorly-constructed scribblings that serve no purpose other than to have something on paper (or a digital equivalent) that I can send in. It’s like being back at school and dashing off a dreadful excuse for your homework so at least you won’t be facing a detention. Except in this case, there’s no detention looming, and I really can’t work out why I do it.

The Folder of Shame contains such gems as a piece of flash fiction cobbled together from a conversation I listened into on a bus, a short sci-fi story that somehow ended up being almost entirely swearing, and my first and only attempt at erotica, which is the most boringly-written sex scene ever committed to page. (Is there a Dull Sex Award to go with the infamous Bad Sex Award? Because that’s a writing competition that I do have a shot at winning).

Over the years, the Folder of Shame has become bloated with the mediocrity I’ve stuffed into its gaping maw. I should probably delete the whole lot – but, as I said earlier, I’ve never been sensible when it comes to my writing. Like a hero at the climax of a cheesy action film, I know what I’ve got to do. I’ve got to throw caution to the wind, dive in, and save whatever glimmerings of good writing I can from the monster in the depths of my hard drive. Who knows? There might be something, in amongst the dross, that’s actually worth reading.

And if you think this is just another excuse to procrastinate on Sigyn…you’re probably right.


Alice’s books are available on Amazon and Smashwords. Her webcomic, co-created and illustrated by Emily Brady, can be found at the Footloose website. Ally rambles about writing, feminism, and odd questions that cross her mind on Twitter and Facebook.


About Alice Nuttall

Alice Nuttall is a caffeine-guzzling knitter who divides her time between Oxford and the various worlds in her head. She is the author of a YA fantasy novel, Spider Circus, and three webcomics, Footloose, Cherry, and Black Market Magic, as well as several short stories.
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