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Gary Egan, LISP 2022 Flash Fiction Finalists 'Rucksack Scare'

LISP 2022 Flash Fiction Finalists 'Rucksack Scare' by Gary Egan

Can you please tell us about you & your daily life?

No, but I’m happy to talk about my writing life.


When & how did you get into writing?

I did English at uni, where I also edited a poetry magazine and later I published poems, stories and essays in other magazines (New Writer, Chapman, School Librarian). I was going to say the more work I placed the more committed I became but the opposite is also true. The work I couldn’t sell was - and remains - a driving force.


Can you elaborate on that a little?

Yes. Rejection motivated me to explore markets other than the UK and Ireland and I went on to sell work on the other side of the pond (Suddenly Lost in Words, Verbatim, The Language Quarterly) as well as the other side of the world (Island, Famous Reporter, Locked Bag in

Australia). Also, I began to think in terms of creating markets for myself and embarked on The Giraffe’s Neck Tour. I’ve performed at festivals and locations ranging from The Yeats Building, Sligo, to the dingleberries of The Edinburgh Fringe. For poetry readings on a bad night it’s one man and his dog and on a very bad night even the dog has a prior engagement. I stopped calling what I wrote poetry and called it stand-up tragedy instead. I’ve more in common with stand-up comics than most contemporary poets but performing just the funny stuff would be too limiting – hence the term stand-up tragedy. I burnt a CD of The Giraffe’s Neck Tour’s most redoubtable moments and flogged it after each gig.


How often do you write? Do you have a routine? What inspires you to write?

I write 52 new works a year, which works out at roughly two poems and two stories (or one story and an essay) a month. As for what inspires me to write, I think I answered that in the previous question – rejection. And, by implication, self-belief.


How does it feel to have your work recognized?

Satisfaction, usually mingled with irritation – what took you so long? Why is the payment so small?


What’s the best/most challenging thing about writing a story?

The second-best thing about writing a story is crafting it; the best thing is getting paid for it, which is also the most challenging thing.


How did you develop the idea for your selected story? Is there a story behind the story? How long did you spend working on it?

The challenge in this case was to resist the temptation to develop it and recognize that it was the right length – 50 words – for maximum effect. What’s stunning about it isn’t the view

from the top of the mountain but the change of point of view at the bottom of the story.


Can you give us a few tips about writing a story?

If you mean for writing the best story, I would advise against reading bestselling/ prizewinning work. On the other hand if writers want to write a bestselling/prizewinning story, I would suggest they study bestsellers/prizewinners closely and replicate them. Alternatively, they might study bestsellers/prizewinners and do the opposite.


What’s the best/most challenging thing about competitions?

The best thing about competitions is that some pay the winners well for their work. What’s hard to take is being shortlisted to fulsome praise but going away empty-handed.


Do you recommend that writers submit stories to LISP?

I’d recommend that writers explore all possible markets for their work but I’d also recommend that LISP increase their prize money in order to attract the best work. If finalists whose work is published on the website were paid, that would make LISP a more enticing proposition. I’ll take greenbacks before laurels every time.


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