Jane Broughton, LISP 2nd Half 2021 Flash Fiction Finalist
LISP 2nd Half 2021 Flash Fiction Finalist 'Lorelei Happened' by Jane Broughton
- Can you please tell us about you and your daily life?
I’m having the time of my life after retiring from my final job as fundraising co-ordinator for a domestic abuse charity. I’ve always lived in Manchester and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. I keep busy doing occasional grandchildren minding, volunteering at my local hospital and, of course, writing.
I’ve realised now that all my jobs have involved writing to one extent or another. I’ve produced strategies, service reviews and funding applications. As a mature student I took a literature based degree followed by a Masters in Art Gallery & Museum Management. I worked on an Oral History Project before the need for better pay pulled me back into my previous career, managing local authority housing and homelessness services.
- When and how did you get into writing?
I discovered the joy of writing in junior school, once winning the almost legendary ‘Gold Star’ for an essay entitled Dead Tree Root. Unfortunately, life soon intervened and writing for pleasure took a back seat to bringing up two daughters and trying to keep a roof over our heads. My writing didn’t really take off until I was in my 50’s, when I 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 Beaconlit Festival’s flash fiction prize and I’ve been shortlisted in a number of writing competitions including Retreat West and Flash500. In 2021 I had stories published online by
The Wondrous Real magazine and Free Flash Fiction. I was a finalist in the 2022 Edinburgh Flash Fiction Award.
- How often do you write? Do you have a writing routine? And what inspires you to write?
I don’t have a writing routine. I enjoy the luxury of being time rich now I’m retired and write when the urge takes me. I’ve read advice in writing magazines about the benefits of writing every day and sometimes beat myself up for not being more professional. I can be my own worst critic but I’m realistic enough to know that I’m not going to change my approach drastically now (those ‘morning pages’ only lasted for four days!)
I find that inspiration can strike at any time. I could hear something on the news, read something that catches my interest or respond to a competition prompt. The ‘light bulb moment’ can be a cliché but it does describe the sudden spark of an idea that sends me scurrying to my desk.
- How does it feel to have your work recognised?
My first reaction is invariably surprise, closely followed by a rush of excitement. That feeling of jittery joy is addictive! Recognition for me often follows a number of rejections that lead me to brood and doubt my ability. An acceptance immediately changes my mindset and I start writing again with renewed enthusiasm.
- What's the best thing and the most challenging thing about writing a Story?
I love writing flash fiction, the shorter the better and enjoy the challenge of distilling an idea down to its essence. I like the process of editing a story, 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?
‘Lorelei Happened’ started life as a prompt in Retreat West’s Micro Fiction Month. I signed up for it during lockdown to help keep me sane. The prompt contained a reference to the ‘Cadillac Café’ which conjured up in my mind the era of 1940’s American noir. I liked the idea of a brief encounter between a hard boiled American detective and the ultimate femme fatale from European legend. I revised the idea twice in response to feedback from other course members and have to own up to tweaking it repeatedly ever since. Now it’s found a home I can thankfully leave it in peace!
- Can you please give us a few tips about writing a Flash Fiction?
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 their writing. I usually stick to only one or two characters in my flash fiction and try to shine a light on one pivotal incident that changes their lives.
- What's the best thing and the most challenging thing about competitions?
I think one of the best things is having a deadline. It gives me the motivation to finish the story and not leave it simmering for weeks. I’m also enjoying gradually getting to know other flash fiction writers, recognising their names on twitter and long/ short lists. It helps to make me feel like part of a very supportive writing community. The very best thing, of course, is when you receive the validation of a placement, or even a win, and you know people will get to read your story.
The most challenging thing is when I have a run of rejections. It can make me question my ability even though I tell myself all judgements are subjective. I know the best way of dealing with rejection is to learn from any feedback and then just keep on writing and submitting.
- Lastly, do you recommend the writers give a go on 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.