Donna L Greenwood, LISP Short Story Semi-Finalist
-We want to learn all about your writing life! When did you start writing? How often do you write?
I started writing about three years ago, prior to that I'd written bits and pieces, but had never really taken myself seriously as a writer. Then, one night in 2017, I wrote a very short story called 'Monster' and, on a whim, entered it for Luna press Publishing's BR-FLit prize and, to my huge surprise, it was chosen as one of the five winners! This really motivated me to write more and to find out as much as I could about flash fiction. Over the past three years I have been placed and have won more competitions and have been published in many print and digital journals. I have had many proud moments but one of my proudest was winning Molotov Cocktail's Flash Legend competition last year with 'The Night of the Last Dreams' - a story which the MC team later nominated for Best Small Fictions. I was and still am beside myself with joy!
I write most days, if I don't, I lose the impulse and then I'm just miserable. I count tinkering around with old stories, editing, planning and playing as writing though, because some days you feel lazy and so cutting up a newspaper article and making a poem out of it appeals more.when you're not in the mood for hard work. I'm really lucky because I no longer have a small family to take care of - I am so impressed with writers who take care of little children and still manage to find time to write - they are my writing heroes.
- How did you feel when you learned that you are a Semi-Finalist on The London Independent Story Prize? I actually flicked through the winning names on the website thinking, I'm not entering this competition anymore, they're clearly way out of my league, I'm obviously not good enough. And then I saw my story in the semi-finalists list! I'm not ashamed to say, I cried. A lot. Being chosen as a semi-finalist for my short story is hugely important. I am only just gaining the confidence to write longer short stories and send them out into the world, so this has been massively encouraging for me. Thank you! - What's the best thing and the hardest thing about writing a short story? This may sound odd, but it's the length of the story I struggle with. I naturally write short pieces and find that my story is often told in less than 1000 words. In choosing to write a longer piece, I found that I ended up writing a lot of unnecessary back story and waffle that added nothing to the story - it was just my attempt to flesh out the writing a little. So I put away my own stories for a while (months, in fact) and I read. I read all kinds of short stories from Edgar Allen Poe to Nicholas Royale, from Charles Dickens to M.R James. I read lots and I realised that the beauty of writing a longer short story is that you have the space to get to know your characters and their world a little more. In 'Carcass', I felt like I knew my character and that helped me sympathise with her, and even though what she does in the story is awful, you kind of understand her motivation because you've entered her world for a short time.
- What's the best thing about writing competitions? I love writing competitions. When you are placed or given an honorary mention, the feeling of validation is incredible. But even if you're not placed, having a deadline and sometimes a theme to work with really helps discipline your writing habits. It's incredibly motivating to have that final deadline in mind because it forces you to write even when you're not in the mood. -Lastly, do you recommend the writers to give it a go on short story and LISP? I highly recommend writers to enter the LISP competitions. I honestly thought that my story would be too weird for it to be taken seriously, but it was chosen as a semi-finalist!! And I am absolutely thrilled. Thank you, LISP team, you have made an insecure writer a little more confident in her writing.