Jane Broughton, LISP Flash Fiction Semi-Finalist
- Can you please tell us about you? Where do you live and how is your daily life? I’m a 63 year old woman and I’m having the time of my life after taking voluntary redundancy. I’ve always lived in Manchester and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. I love the people, the history and the vibrancy of the city. - When did you start writing? How often do you write? We want to learn all about your writing life! I discovered the joy of writing in school, once winning the almost legendary ‘Gold Star’ for a junior school essay on a dead tree root. Unfortunately, life soon took over and writing for pleasure took a back seat to bringing up two daughters and trying to keep a roof over our heads. I’ve realised, in hindsight, that all my jobs have involved writing to one extent or another. I produced homelessness strategies, service reviews and a variety of funding applications for local charities. My writing really took off, however, when I decided to take redundancy at 60 and completed the Writers’ Bureau comprehensive writing course. I haven’t stopped since. I’ve had articles published in a broad range of publications including Northern Life, Best of British and Garden News. My stories have appeared in The People’s Friend, Yours Magazine and the Weekly News. In 2019 I was delighted to win the Beaconlit Festival’s flash fiction prize and have been shortlisted in a number of writing competitions including Retreat West and Flash500. - How did you feel when you learned that you are a Semi-Finalist on The London Independent Story Prize? I was surprised and delighted! The news came after I’d received a number of rejections one after the other and was starting to question my ability. It was truly motivating and I’m now right back in the swing of writing again. - What's the best thing and the hardest thing about writing a Flash-Fiction? The thing I love about it is the challenge of distilling a story down to its essence. I enjoy the process of editing a story down, keeping a narrative while losing all those adjectives. The hardest thing for me is making my characters come alive within the constraints of a limited word count. - 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? My story, ‘Hands smelling of roses’ was inspired by the voluntary work I do at my local hospital. I’ve watched volunteers giving hand massages to elderly patients and it struck me that every patient had a hidden history. Who knew what lives they’d lived, what memories or secrets they kept – why not a tragic career as a trapeze artiste? - Can you please give us a few tips about writing a 300-word flash-fiction story? I’m not sure I’m qualified to give tips as my submissions are still a bit ‘hit and miss’ but I would advise anyone to relax and enjoy it. I usually stick to only one or two characters and try to shine a light on one pivotal incident that changes their lives. - What's the best thing about writing competitions? Having a deadline, a motivation to finish the story, the chance of winning, getting recognised by a professional organisation, communicating with other writers or a networking opportunity to meet with like-minded people? I think most people would say all of the above. I find a deadline very useful in motivating me as I do struggle with procrastination given the chance. -Lastly, do you recommend the writers to give it a go on flash fiction story and LISP? Absolutely, definitely, go for it! You’ve got nothing to lose and there might, just might, be that amazing rush you get when one of your stories succeeds.