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Jess Richards, LISP 2023 Short Story Winner: 'Before the Gale'

LISP 2023 Short Story Winner: Before the Gale by Jess Richards

- Can you please tell us about your writing schedule? How often do you write? Do you have a writing routine? And what inspires you to write? I write whenever I can - sometimes fitting it around other work, or tasks. Often when I'm particularly busy there's a build-up of writing in my head, a kind of desperation to get to it, which can mean that when I can finally make/grab time, it rushes out and surprises me. I like it when that happens - but it can be a frustrating process too. Other times, when I can have more writing time, it's slower, more deliberate, more thoughtful. I love this process most - being able to take a writing question for a walk and resolve it on the way. Or thinking of a writing issue when I fall asleep and resolving it by sitting down to write as soon as I wake up. My routine is really to use money to buy writing time - so trying not to get too hung up on possessions, but seeing writing time as the most valuable thing. In terms of inspiring things - it's often via reading - finding other writers who are doing something I've never seen before, or find intriguing. That makes me want to reinvent things too, and try new things out, pushing boundaries. - How does it feel to have your work recognised? It's great - I wish it wasn't so important, but can't deny that it is. I guess unless it's a private diary, we all write to be read. But I don't mind how many people read my writing - if just one person tells me that it meant something significant to them, or made them think or feel something important, then that's the brightest flame. I don't forget what people who've read my writing tell me when their emotions or memories are involved - I hold onto these flames and keep them burning. - What's the best and most challenging thing about writing a Story? Knowing what the heartbeat of the story is. By heartbeat I guess the urgent thing that makes the writing mean something significant to me - the reason that particular moment, or story, or poem, becomes important enough. Sometimes it takes me a while to find the heartbeat of what I'm writing - and I can't share it, or edit it properly, until I know what it is. Perhaps the heartbeat is the theme, or linked to it. Whatever it is, it has a sense of urgency for me, even if it only appears subtly in the writing. - How did you develop the idea for your LISP-selected story? Is there a story behind your story? And, how long have you been working on it? I was making an altered book - experimenting with redaction / erasure techniques, and I wanted to write a disappearing story. It was an experimental process, and this textual version is an experiment with making a story partially disappear. There needed to be a moment in the plot which would trigger this, and I also wanted the visuality of text, of words and language to be involved. So the story is about a moment in someone's life when they're flooding with memories, and then a bomb blows, and the text starts to disappear (the letters b o m b are removed from the story while the narrator's memories disappear. Even without certain letters, it is still possible to read the part of the story which is disappearing. - Can you please give us a few tips about writing a Story? Give it time, and thought. Think about what it's about, but also why it's important enough to write about. Keep revising it - take it beyond the first draft. - What's the best thing and the most challenging thing about competitions? The best thing is that they give an opportunity for deadlines, and to get the writing out there. Rejection is horrible, but it does mean that the writing is yours again - and it's an opportunity to redraft it, brush it off, and try again somewhere else. Most good writing will find a home somewhere - it just might not always be the first place it's sent to. The main thing is that it finds the right place. - Lastly, do you recommend the writers submit to LISP?




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