Carrie Jade Williams, Short Story Finalist, LISP 3rd Quarter 2020
When did you start writing? How often do you write?
My journey to writing started after I was diagnosed with a Degenerative Neurological Illness. Part of the progression will impact my ability to communicate eventually and with that in mind it became quite urgent to start recording some of my thoughts for the loved ones I’ll be leaving behind.
I was extremely privileged to have stumbled across The Novelry about 4 months ago and started working on a larger project with their amazing support (Louise Dean and Katie Khan are writing mentor angels!). The Novelry has been such a blessing not only as you have input from Louise Doughty, Emylia Hall, Joanna Cannon, etc(!) but I feel part of a community of writers, each championing each other’s successes, even unpublished, untrained writers like me- it’s a real community that value and respect each other during the process of writing. We laugh, we complain, we share, we encourage.
Similarly, while working on that larger project I found other ideas kept popping up, so I started writing shorter pieces for fun really. During lockdown I found Jude Higgins was running a group and between all these positive, amazing writers my confidence grew.
Although I start writing every morning at around 4.30am until around 9.30am (when life, work, and everything else invades) I’ve never felt alone as a writer as I’ve found my tribe.
- How does it feel to have your work recognised?
I was really surprised. I only started sending work out as I suffer from really bad Imposter Syndrome. I look at other talented writers who have studied and finely tuned their craft and always feel that I’ll never be able to catch up. One of my mentors spoke to me and said so many writers feel that way and that perhaps I should be bold and send work out into the world.
I also read that writers should be aiming for at least 100 rejections a year, so I started submitting work to add to hit the 100 rejections a year, and LISP was one of the first competitions I entered. So, it was very shocking when I read the email that I was a finalist.
- What's the best thing and the hardest thing about writing a Short Story?
As a neurodiverse writer my biggest challenge isn’t the writing, it’s the editing and formatting and sending! Unfortunately, Assistive Tech isn’t always compatible with all platforms and just takes a bit longer.
I love that short stories force you as a writer to concentrate on what really matters in the story as you don’t have the spare words to go off on little tangents.
- 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?
For me, I write thematically. As my illness has damaged my temporal lobe, I sometimes forget words, so think and plot completely based around a theme and then trust the words will eventually resurface! For this piece, the theme came to me and I just started writing (or talking into the computer) and the piece sort of blossomed.
- Can you please give us a few tips about writing a 1500-word short story?
Write what you’d like to read. Write about things you care about. Write about characters you want to fall in love with. Write as if this piece of writing could inspire change.
- What's the best thing and the hardest thing about writing competitions?
I would say having the confidence to enter your work is a big one, but I hope my last 6 months show it’s worth trying. I’ve had so many doors opened up for me simply by sending work out into the world.
Again, I think encouraging a wide selection of work by removing accessibility barriers is urgently needed. I’m happy if any writing competitions or platforms wants t reach out for any advice to make their platforms accessible as there are a lot of free and simple changes that make a huge difference. I hope we are moving into a time where inclusivity will be the norm as we all benefit and grow from hearing different voices in literature.
-Lastly, do you recommend the writers to give it a go on LISP?
Absolutely. The act of submitting work is a win in itself.