Ghost of Christmas (story) past

Allison Tait blog
Posted on May 8, 2013

Today I did a year’s worth of filing. It was about as inspiring as it sounds. But…

My filing unearthed a ‘Christmas story’ that was rejected by the English Women’s Weekly about five years ago (Lord only knows why it was still hanging around the ‘to be filed’ file). The title was terrible – Icing on the Christmas Cookie – dear God.

Surely it got better?

I read it with great interest for, by now, it reads as though it were written by someone else entirely. Why did they reject it, I wondered, as I perused the opening lines?

It was all okay. Which was probably the problem. Okay, as in, not terrible but not outstanding in any way.

Until I got to this bit.

Wrapping paper littered the room like confetti, the Christmas tree had given up its load of presents like Papa Penguin sending off his eggs to hatch, and Amanda had taken another 50 photographs to add to the 1000 unprinted images on her computer’s hard drive.

Papa Penguin? Methinks someone had been watching too much David Attenborough at the time of writing.

That’s the thing with writing. So much of it is impacted by what’s going on in your life at the time.

Just another reason to put manuscripts away in a drawer for a while before going back to edit them.

Are you sometimes surprised by things you’ve written in the past?

A L Tait The Fire StarAre you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of two epic middle-grade adventure series, The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher, and a new ‘almost history’ detective series called the Maven & Reeve Mysteries (you’ll find book #1 THE FIRE STAR here).

You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.


  1. Nicole Madigan

    Ever found an old diary? A different type of writing yes, but eek, that is the worst.

  2. The Wholefood Mama

    Absolutely have been surprised by things I’ve written in the past. I found a notebook when I was moving house about ten years ago, at the time I was working as a food writer and restaurant reviewer, the notebook was handwritten by my twelve year old self and it was page after page of recipes I had copied out of cookbooks and then written a review of the recipe at the bottom of the page complete with star rating! I will be paying very close attention to my children’s interests at age 12. The other writing that has surprised me are my university essays – where has that academic brain gone?!

  3. Maxabella

    Happy feet? x

  4. therhythmmethod

    I think Anne Lamott has something to say about first drafts … You’re very brave (and generous) to share it here. 🙂

  5. Sam Stone

    Papa Penguin! I agree with Jodi. That is GOLD!!

  6. Jodi Gibson

    Oh Al, thank-you! You have made my day… Papa Penguin! Gold.

  7. Kelly Exeter

    When I was de-cluttering our house ready for sale I came across some short stories I wrote in Primary School. Good … golly … gosh!!

    • allison tait

      I think my primary school ones may have been better than this one.

  8. Anna Spargo-Ryan

    I don’t understand. Are you saying Papa Penguin is no good?

    • allison tait

      I’m saying that as a simile he could perhaps use some work. But as the protagonist of my next children’s book, he is a winner!

    • Anna Spargo-Ryan

      That’s what I thought you meant! Whew, glad we cleared that up.

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