LISP 2nd Half 2021 Short Story Finalist 'Where is Joanie' by Chloe Huttner
- Can you please tell us about you and your daily life?
I spend time tutoring children, writing, gardening, walking, being with loved ones, reading etc. I live with some lovely housemates in the oasis that is our (well, we don't own it) house in South West London. I think of my daily life as an early retirement from all the striving and proving and pleasing which I used to do. Joyful, idyllic, though not without its challenges- chiefly keeping that exhausting urge to strive in check, and earning the money needed to live my life!
- When and how did you get into writing?
I used to enjoy writing as a child, but as I grew up it took a back-seat to more conventional 'achieving'. I rediscovered writing a few years ago, in creative writing group therapy sessions. I found that I love conveying fragments of my imagination with words, and seeing others getting something from it too. I have been writing ever since. I finished a novel earlier this year, so I'm currently submitting to different literary agents. Doing that and maintaining my drive to write is quite tricky.
- How often do you write? Do you have a writing routine? And what inspires you to write?
It depends- sometimes I write a few hours every day, sometimes not for weeks. I have no routine, meaning that occasionally I find myself with a numb bum and tired eyes at one in the morning, after many hours tapping away. I find that writing the horrible things down on paper gives me a sense of control, so I am often inspired by nightmares/ inner conflict/feelings about an issue. Plus there's just that feeling that I'm bursting to write. Although that feeling isn't always there- sometimes I drag myself to the laptop.
- How does it feel to have your work recognised?
It feels WONDERFUL. Thank you for running the LISP. Writing is a form of communication, and it can be a lonely feeling that things I've written are not being read and enjoyed. Being a finalist for the LISP was a very validating response and the first of its kind from the literary industry.
- What's the best thing and the most challenging thing about writing a Story?
The best thing is when it feels like magic- that I'm creating something with a shape and energy of its own, a bit like dancing with words or cooking with characters. The most challenging thing is to suspend the ever-present inner critic. She likes to tell me that I cannot write and my words are a completely pointless jumble of cr*p.
- 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? I came up with the idea after tutoring a GCSE English student. In our lesson, I asked the pupil to write a short story, and I wrote one too, written from the perspective of an animal. That evening, I had a nightmare about domestic abuse. The next day, I wrote 'Where is Joanie' combining the two experiences- the story is a dog's perception of some dysfunctional humans. I think we humans aren't very in touch with the fact we are animals, and I love writing from that perspective. I savoured reading 'Memoirs of a Polar Bear' for that reason.
- Can you please give us a few tips about writing a Story?
Ugh, I try not to give advice- we are all deluged with advice. I will repeat a tip of Lucy Prebble's which I read recently: 'get it done, then get it good'.
- What's the best thing and the most challenging thing about competitions?
Best thing- the feedback. Worst thing- the administrative work.
- Lastly, do you recommend the writers give a go on LISP?
Imagine if I answered no to this question!