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LISP 2nd Half 2021 Short Story Winner, 'Nothing Happens Until Something Moves' by Ali Seegar

by Ali Seegar

- Can you please tell us about you and your daily life?

I’m a Brit, who has been living in Luxembourg for the past twenty years with my Dutch husband and working as a marketeer for a financial institution. Life is really busy at the moment as I’m in my final year studying for a diploma in creative writing at the University of Oxford as well as working on the first book in a YA series of which I’m currently around halfway through the first draft. I’m also learning Luxembourgish so I can apply for my Luxembourg citizenship.

- When and how did you get into writing?

Writing has always been a huge part of both my professional and personal life and I have a drawer full of half-finished stories. I finished my first middle-grade novel ‘Tommy Turner’s Tremendous Travels’ in 2003 but it took me another thirteen years to pluck up the courage to self-publish (it was a finalist in the 2019 Wishing Shelf Book Awards). In 2019 I self-published a second novel in the same series ‘Tommy Turner’s Battle for Yorintown’ and I’m planning a third.

- How often do you write? Do you have a writing routine? And what inspires you to write?

I write every day, breaking my time into study and writing my novel. Inspiration can come from anything – conversations, news stories, nature, experiences – and I always have a notebook or phone app handy, as it can strike at any moment, including the middle of the night. Often a story or character will start off quite hazy and I will let it develop inside me before suddenly leaping onto the page... that’s always an exciting moment. Before sitting down to write, I light a scented candle as a ritual to take me from my daily life to my writing.

- How does it feel to have your work recognised?

It is the most incredible feeling. I’ve been on cloud nine since I learnt my short story had been chosen for the London Independent Story Prize. It can sometimes feel very vulnerable (for me, at least) to send my work out into the big wide world and to receive validation that it has been understood and received well is amazing. Outside covid times, I regularly visit English-speaking schools in Luxembourg to give creative writing workshops and encourage the children to read. When I hear that a child has enjoyed reading my middle-grade books it makes every painful edit and moment of doubt worthwhile.

- What's the best thing and the most challenging thing about writing a Story?

Being honest to the writing and challenging yourself to understand exactly what you mean to say, then finding the most precise yet meaningful words to say it in.

- How did you come up with the idea for your LISP selected story? Is there a story behind your story? And, how long have you been working on it?

Having worked in the corporate world for many years, I’ve experienced first-hand the transformation companies are going through in terms of technology and the working environment, and how this affects the people working there, especially long-serving employees. I’m also a London girl, used to getting stuck in traffic jams (!), so it felt natural to set the story there.

- Can you please give us a few tips about writing a Story?

Be prepared to hate the first draft but get it out onto the paper because only then can you really start working on the words you want to write. Keep a notebook and write down every little phrase and thought that springs into your head as you never know when it will suddenly trigger a spark. Find a group of fellow writers that you can be fully trusting and open with. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the immensely talented writers on my undergrad course who support and encourage each other but also provide constructive opinion. Read all you can when you are not writing, not just for pleasure but to analyse what makes a particular character, paragraph, piece of dialogue stand out.

- What's the best thing and the most challenging thing about competitions?

It’s like sending a piece of yourself to be judged, which can feel horribly scary. I’m always conscious of the deadline as it’s good to have a few weeks for the story to settle between writing the first draft and starting to edit; I would rather not submit if I didn’t have enough time to edit. But I believe if you are serious as a writer, it is a great way to hone your skill and challenge yourself and, of course, build your reputation if your story gets chosen.

- Lastly, do you recommend the writers give a go on LISP?

One hundred percent! I honestly didn’t know what to expect when I submitted my piece to LISP and almost fell off my chair when I saw I had won... I had to keep going back to check. If you don’t try, you will never know!



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