LISP 2022 Flash Fiction Winner 'Good Neighbors' by Andrew Stancek
- When and how did you get into writing?
I have been writing intermittently since my teenage years. In 2010, I took a workshop with Alistair MacLeod, an amazing writer and winner of the International Dublin Literary Award, who encouraged me, spurring me on to write more consistently, more purposefully. Since then, I have published over two hundred short pieces in a great many venues, including SmokeLong Quarterly, FRIGG, Hobart, Green Mountains Review, New World Writing, New Flash Fiction Review, Jellyfish Review, Peacock Journal and The Phare. I have won the Reflex Fiction contest, the New Rivers Press American Fiction contest and now the LISP Flash Fiction Prize. I have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. My book, entitled Saying Goodbye, will be published in March 2023.
- How often do you write? Do you have a writing routine? And what inspires you to write?
I try to write every day, but don’t always succeed. I feel called to write. I have hundreds of pieces in various states of completion, which I revise and recast, combine and above all, cut, cut, cut. I am determined to keep writing as long as I am breathing.
I am inspired by a drop of rain plopping into a mud puddle, a leaf curled under a willow, an overheard snippet of conversation in the grocery store, a single word in an online story. Anything can serve as an entry into a piece of writing.
- How does it feel to have your work recognised?
Recognition is most welcome. Writing is not only solitary, but can be most discouraging. For someone like me, who submits a lot of short pieces, that necessarily means an awful lot of rejection. Sometimes a torrent of rejection can beat you down, so a publication acceptance is like a spring shower for a thirsty clematis.
- How did you develop the idea for your LISP-selected story? Is there a story behind your story?
My story Good Neighbors was prompted by a confluence of disparate elements. I was in fact mowing the lawn near a broken-down fence when I thought of writing the story. Fences have been very much on our collective minds since a certain President insisted on building them on a southern border. The idea of neighborliness and its meaning is a frequent refrain in my thoughts, rooted in the Good Samaritan parable.
- Can you please give us a few tips about writing a Story?
Read. Read. Read some more. Read widely but especially in the field where you want to write. Make sure you know what the masters have written and are writing. Examine how they have accomplished. Don’t give up on your own work. Put a piece aside if it is not working, write something else, return to it another time. Once a piece is drafted, revise, revise, revise.
- What's the best thing and the most challenging thing about competitions?
Recognize that competitions often receive hundreds, even thousands of entries. Your best work may be passed over and it is not a judgment on its merits. Keep writing, producing the best work you can. Never give up.