LISP 4th Quarter 2020 Official Selection, Flash Fiction, 'The Last Summer' by Iva Bezinovic-Haydon
When did you start writing? How often do you write?
I try to write every day. When I fail to do it, I try to at least think about writing. Failing to manage that, I try not to feel guilty and just start fresh the next day.
I write kids' books and short stories. My first kids' book got published in 2019, the second one's scheduled to be published in a few months.
I mostly write in Croatian, but a few of my English stories did well in various competitions. I got shortlisted for The Bridport Prize in 2019 and 2020 and am currently shortlisted in the 500 Flash Fiction Competition. One of my stories got published in The Flash Fiction Magazine, and three of my short stories in Croatian were printed in short story anthologies.
How does it feel to have your work recognized?
It's exhilarating. Living in your head gets exhausting, so it feels uplifting when you find out that your writing resonated with someone outside your private bubble.
What's the best thing and the most challenging thing about writing a Flash-Fiction?
The best thing for me is editing my stories, over and over again. I like digging into it with passion and determination. I'm not emotionally tied to my sentences. I quite enjoy deleting huge chunks of text.
The hardest thing is finding an appealing way to tell a long story compactly. I enjoy that challenge, though, which brings us back to the best thing about writing a Flash-Fiction.
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 wrote down a lot of my thoughts a few summers ago while we were traveling around Austria and Germany in our campervan. When I re-read my notes a couple of years later in a bout of nostalgia, I read them as a story about a family similar to ours but with an alternative life path. It only took me a couple of days to finish it. I merely filled in some gaps to tie it all together.
Can you please give us a few tips about writing a flash-fiction story?
I usually come up with an idea in a shower or on a walk, which I let simmer in my mind for a bit. When I'm ready to write it down, I keep my mind open. I allow the text to work for me and to lead me places, even if it drags me away from my original idea. After the first draft, I edit the text, edit it again, leave it for a bit, delete most of it, and sometimes rewrite it until I get sick of it and can't look at it anymore. If I'm sick of it in a good way, that means it's finished. If I'm sick of it in a bad way, I bin it and start over with another idea.
What's the best thing and the hardest thing about writing competitions?
Best thing: having a deadline and a goal to work towards.
Hardest thing: Patiently waiting for the results. I'm not a patient person.
Lastly, do you recommend the writers give it a go on LISP?
Of course! It's important to set goals and to challenge yourself, and sending your stories to a writing competition is a great place to start. It's also important not to get discouraged if your story doesn't get selected, though. All the decisions are always the judges' personal opinions. At least, that's what I keep telling myself.