LISP 2nd Half 2021 Flash Fiction Finalist 'Under the Clock' by Mary Francis
- Can you please tell us about you and your daily life? I live in Pōneke (Wellington), capital city of Aotearoa New Zealand, with my partner and our heterochromatic cat. I'm a Funeral Director by day and by night I do spontaneous theatre and stand up comedy. I used to have more time for writing when I was doing an office job that bored me senseless; now I have a great job that I love and which is full of inspiration, but it's a lot harder to find time to sit down at my laptop and get creative.
- How does it feel to have your work recognised? It's a huge boost to get on any kind of list, whether it's short, long, near-misses or judge's nod. Just knowing someone read my story and liked it really puts a pep in my step. It also helps motivate me to keep polishing my stories and make them as good as they can be. Actually winning a prize is a rare and delightful buzz. I used the money I got from placing third in the 2018 NZ Writers College Short Story Competition to go to the first Rotorua Noir (NZ crime writing festival) in 2019. Using money I'd actually earned by writing to go to a writing conference was hugely satisfying. - What's the most challenging thing about competitions?
There's nothing like starting your day by opening a rejection email. It's especially tough if it's a story I really love and thought had a good shot. There are lots of rational reasons not to get downhearted, but it's impossible to deny a little deflation as a result. - What's the best thing and the most challenging thing about writing a story? For me, the most challenging part is always finding the right ending. The best part is the editing. Sometimes the actual writing of the story flows and is fun and easy, but more often it's just bits and pieces that I'm trying to push towards some kind of conclusion. Once it's finished, though, then the hard part is over and I can get on with finding what's good about it and making it better. - 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? "Under the Clock" is about two years old now. It's been 1,000 words long, 300 words long, and everything in between. I had my writing group critique it and I've sent it in various forms to seven different competitions. I've picked away at it, a word or two at a time, tightening it up and polishing, polishing, polishing. As to where the idea came from, I was thinking about aphorisms about time passing and wrote down as many as I could think of, then the story built up around those.