I am honored to have been interviewed by Marcia Peterson at WOW! Women on Writing. We discuss writing routines, writing tools and habits, and my soon to be released short story collection. We also delve into the editorial process and why it is important for writers to overcome their fear and submit their work.
Here’s the full interview:
WOW: Congratulations on your top ten win in our Summer 2015 Flash Fiction competition! What inspired you to enter the contest?
Lisa: Thank you! I submitted to WOW! Summer 2015 Flash Fiction competition because I liked that it was a platform for women writers to submit their work. The opportunity to have your work read by and receive feedback from a literary agent like Eve Porinchak is rare. Her feedback was invaluable and inspiring.
WOW: We’d love to know more about your writing routines. Could you tell us when and where you usually write? Do you have favorite tools or habits that get you going?
Lisa: I like to write in the morning when I’m fresh and the day hasn’t made any demands. Even though I have a home office, I tend to write at the kitchen table. Each new year I tell myself that I’m going to start using my desk then I end up back at the kitchen table. As far as tools or habits, I engage with my writing daily. It might be in the form of editing or submitting a piece, but I’m a strong believer that it’s all cumulative and that anything you do for your writing matters.
I believe revision is so important to the writing process. Many new writers try to skip this part of the process and I truly believe they are missing out on a rewarding aspect of the writing practice. I will work on a piece for months at a time, put it away, then come back to it with fresh eyes. When I do this, I’m able to see holes in the story that I just couldn’t see at the beginning because I was too close, too invested. For me, this moving away from the story for a time and then returning to it has become an essential tool for my work and I place a lot of value on it.
WOW: You write fiction and non-fiction, including flash, short and long form fiction, articles and book reviews. Do you find one more challenging than the others? Are you drawn to one form more than the others?
Lisa: I’m a short story writer at heart. I tend to engage with characters in the shorter structure and, for me, I find it the most exhilarating form. I love being able to step into a character’s life and catch a glimpse of what they are feeling and doing. Someone once told me that everyone has a story and it’s important to them. That’s how I look at my characters—this is their story and it’s my job to honor it and tell it the best way that I can. The short story form allows me to do that. I also really enjoy writing flash fiction. I find whittling the piece down and still maintaining the integrity of the story an exciting challenge. It also builds the editorial muscle that is so important for writers.
For me, writing long form fiction is the most challenging. The first full length manuscript I completed was written in a multi-narrative, non-traditional structure, which I can see now was a way for me to continue writing in the shorter form that feels more comfortable. I challenged myself with my second and now third full length manuscripts to develop a more traditional story arc. It’s not as natural for me as the short form but I’m determined to do it well.
WOW: You’ve also completed a collection of short stories will be released this year. Can you tell us about that? What did it take to complete that big goal?
Lisa: I am so excited for the collection to be released! I’ve been working on it for years. When I first started writing seriously, I knew that a short story collection was something that I wanted to accomplish. I’ve never taken my eye off that goal. The stories in the collection are close to my heart because some of them were my first. They’ve been revised, restructured and rewritten many times, all with the conviction that they would find a home in a collection. My hope is that readers will connect with the characters and their struggles, find something in these tales that resonate with them like so many of my favorite short stories have done with me.
WOW: Let us know when your collection becomes available, and thanks so much for chatting with us today, Lisa! Before you go, do you have any tips for our readers who may be thinking about entering writing contests?
Lisa: Do it! Submitting your work is a brave act. I think it’s important to remember that there’s a tier process when sending out your writing. When you first start, standard rejections are common. Many writers fear the rejection and avoid or stop submitting. What they don’t know is that as you advance as a writer, the rejections become more personalized, which is how you really start to see areas that you are doing well and where the writing can be improved. It’s a surreal experience when you get rejected but feel great about it! All feedback has value for a writer. Listening to the feedback with a willingness to learn keeps you from becoming defensive and it teaches you how your work is being received. Writing is a solitary occupation, but it does not have to be isolating. Sending out your writing connects you to the world, other writers, editors and platforms like WOW!