Jennifer Howze, Flash Fiction Finalist, LISP 2nd Quarter 2020
- Can you please tell us about your daily life?
I live in West Dulwich and recently moved into a flat where I once again have a separate office. So each morning I ‘go to work’ by fixing tea, opening a window and sitting down at my desk, where my laptop sits propped up on four books so it doesn’t strain my neck. (I use The New Oxford Dictionary of English, Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase & Fable, Simon Callow’s biography of Orson Welles and a reference book of quotations.) About 10 years ago I cofounded the BritMums network and social media consultancy with a business partner, so spend my days thinking about the best ways we can communicate online. I spend evenings and weekends writing flash fiction and short stories, and working on an autofiction book about growing up in Texas and my move to New York then London. I can be found online at @jhowze, @jhowze and @Jenography. - When did you start writing? How often do you write? I started writing stories while still in primary school and exchanging them with my friends. Since graduating from the University of Texas at Austin, my essays and articles have appeared in Salon, Nerve, The Independent, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, and The Times, among others. I write every day, usually in the evenings. An article I wrote for Seventeen magazine won a Maggie Award from Planned Parenthood and my personal blog Jenography.net is a top-ranked family travel blog in the UK. I recently earned a distinction for my Masters Degree in Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmiths. - How does it feel to have your work recognised?
It’s very exciting! For a long time my creative writing has been something I’ve done on my own, without being published. It feels like I’m finally ‘going public’. - What's the best thing and the hardest thing about writing a Flash-Fiction?
The hardest thing about writing flash fiction is distilling the story down to its barest essentials yet still having it move and go somewhere. The best thing is being able to produce something that can have a strong effect in one small package. - 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?
‘What It Means’ started as an exercise to write about the nature of love but in a different way. After I drafted it I realised that it could actually turn into a piece. I went through a lot of quick redrafts and workshopped it with my group from Goldsmiths. After a couple more redrafts I basically felt it was there. I’ve trimmed and shaped a bit since then but while it was a long time brewing, it came together quite quickly. - Can you please give us a few tips about writing a 300-word flash-fiction story?
Just start writing! I didn’t know what this piece was going to be or even if it was going to be something until it kind of ended up there. For me with flash fiction, I also think it’s wise to return to a piece and keep cutting so you really hone it. - What's the best thing and the hardest thing about writing competitions?
Knowing you may get a piece ready, pay the fee, wait — then find out that your work isn’t chosen. It can be hard to keep the faith with your writing when you’re not getting any recognition. -Lastly, do you recommend the writers to give it a go on flash fiction story and LISP? Absolutely! I only started writing flash fiction in my Masters course and never really considered it before then, but now I find the format really suits some of the stories I want to tell, especially when I’m feeling more experimental but want to play around.