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Jacqueline Owens, LISP 4th Quarter 2020 Official Selection, Short Story

LISP 4th Quarter 2020 Official Selection, Short Story, 'Band Meeting' by Jacqueline Owens

Can you please tell us about your daily life?

I live in Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, near the centre of town, so the New Zealand parliament is about a 10 minute walk from my flat. I'm also close to my work, where I write manuals to improve aviation safety, as well as the waterfront and a few city beaches. I'm a big fan of the "15 minute city" idea where you should live 15 minutes away from your work, somewhere to buy healthy food, public transport etc. If we could all do that, we'd have so much extra time to write! When did you start writing? How often do you write?

I seem to have been writing forever, at least since high school. I had a young adult novel, Bluest Moon, published by a small press in New Zealand, inspired by experiences I had living in rural Japan, and I did a Master of Fine Arts in screenwriting at the University of Southern California's School of Film and Television in the 90s. After that I was sick for a long time and left writing, but came back to it, to work on screenplays and over the last few years a novel and short stories. How does it feel to have your work recognised?

It's amazing, and I couldn't believe it at first. I must have looked at your website about 20 times at work over the past few days! What's the best thing and the hardest thing about writing a Short Story?

I think starting can be daunting - not as bad as a novel, but there is always a moment when you wonder if you should be spending your time on this, and whether it's going to be any good. We have to give ourselves permission to write a really rough first draft, and remember that things will improve from there. The best thing is having a draft and revising it, pruning words and phrases, sharpening things and making them better. I think short story writers have to learn to love their inner editor but not let her out at the beginning of the process 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?

It was when I was living in London, overwhelmed by such a big city, that feeling of sonder at the possibilities of all the lives being lived around you. I started seeing these characters, ex pop legends, coping with post-fame life. In London I enjoyed being anonymous, in a way you can't always be in a smaller place like Wellington, so I wondered what it would be like to be recognisable for the rest of your life and what that would do to you. JJ loves the fame and is clinging onto it with both hands, but Tony has been too much in the spotlight for his own sanity. Can you please give us a few tips about writing a short story?

Take notes, go for walks, let your mind wander. You have to trust your subconscious to bring you ideas, but you also have to encourage it, and I find going for a walk somewhere new, or in the dark, always gets my mind wandering. Music also helps. When I was writing this and related stories, there were some video clips I probably watched about 50 times on YouTube to get me in the right headspace. What's the best thing and the hardest thing about writing competitions?

I think the opportunities to get your work out there, the positive reinforcement when you get somewhere and the knowledge that, if you don't get anywhere this time, there are always more opportunities. As the Japanese koan says" Fall down seven times, get up eight". I'm all about the process of getting back up, and writing competitions build your persistence and resilience. The hardest thing is plucking up the courage, and learning to deal with inevitable rejections. Lastly, do you recommend the writers to give it a go on LISP?

Absolutely! It seems like a very well-run competition, and the positive feedback was really invaluable. We all need to form communities with other writers, so this is a good way to do that. I'm also looking forward to reading the winning entry and the other stories in the Official Selection - I am sure they will be great and I will learn from them, as well.



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