LISP 2022 Flash Fiction Finalist, 'Two Men Kissing' by Finnian Burnettt
- How often do you write? Do you have a writing routine? And what inspires you to write?
I am not a daily writer. I don't have a routine. I'm a grad student and a college instructor and I run an online LGBTQ writing academy, as well, so my own writing often takes a back seat. My writing generally comes in bursts of inspiration, often triggered by a phrase or a conversation or something in my life that inspires a story.
- How does it feel to have your work recognised?
My favorite thing in the world is when a person reaches out to me and says something I wrote touched them. Winning contests, being published, having my work nominated for awards - all of that contributes to the joy of having people read my work. I'm recently published a flash fiction collection through Ad Hoc Fiction, The Clothes Make the Man, about a trans masculine person living in a fat female body and the struggles he goes through. I've been brought to tears by some of the stories people have reached out to tell me after reading that work. It's incredible that so many people found the stories resonating with them, even if their own struggles weren't exactly the same.
- What's the best thing and the most challenging thing about writing a Story?
Sometimes the hardest part is finishing. I bust out of the gate with an incredible idea and pound out three-quarters of a story and then nothing! I give myself permission to take some time away and come back to it with fresh eyes.
- How did you develop the idea for your LISP-selected story? Is there a story behind your story? And, how long have you been working on it?
I wrote the first draft in a Retreat West Friday Flash workshop. Gaynor Jones asked us to think about something/someone in pop culture and since I'm a huge Star Trek geek, the first thing that came to mind was, of course, Star Trek. Specifically I was thinking about the genuine, loving relationship between Dr. Culber and Stamets on Star Trek: Discovery. I wonder how my life would have been different if I'd seen a healthy gay couple on TV when I was a queer, outcast teenager. It sprung from there. The first draft came out in about five minutes, but I put it aside and didn't look at it for weeks. When I came back to it, I spent quite a lot of time revising because it was so important to get it just right.
- Can you please give us a few tips about writing a Story?
Focus on genuine characters. When people love your characters, they'll follow you anywhere. Develop your voice. Short pieces are a great place to experiment with writing so practicing writing a lot of short stories can help writers hone their voice in anything they write. Ask a trusted friend to let you read your piece aloud to them. It gives you a feel for the cadence and you can judge the reception by your friend's facial expression.
- What's the best thing and the most challenging thing about competitions? When everyone starts celebrating on social media and you're not on the list. It happens to all of us and it's so important to remember that if it isn't your time with this contest, it might be next time.
-Have you written any other Star Trek based stories?
Oh yes. I'm working on a Star-Trek themed novella-in-flash collection. If I ever finish it, it will likely be released through Off Topic Publishing, the publisher of my forthcoming collection.
- Lastly, do you recommend the writers submit their stories/screenplays to LISP?
Absolutely. This was a lovely experience. I was so delighted to get the email telling me I had shortlisted!