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Mary Lukasiewicz, LISP 2nd Half 2021 Short Story Finalist

LISP 2nd Half 2021 Short Story Finalist 'Vibrant' by Mary Lukasiewicz

- Can you please tell us about you and your daily life?

I am an American living in London by way of Los Angeles, Montreal, Budapest, Varanasi, and Amsterdam. I have been working jobs all across the film industry for the past fifteen years, from pre-production and development, to production to post production. For the last many years I have been a 1st Assistant Editor on feature films, which has allowed me a whole different perspective on writing and storytelling. Often when things in the film aren't working, it is our job in editorial to figure out creative solutions, so it has been fascinating to learn to analyze a story from the completion point backwards instead of the other way around.

- When and how did you get into writing?

I have been making up stories since I was a little kid. I was an only child who learned to talk before I could walk and would apparently just sit on the floor and endlessly talk to myself. I think this would surprise no one who knows me! When I started in the film industry, I became exposed to a more compressed form of storytelling, where every scene, line and even word has to be chosen carefully because of the limited time you have to convey everything to an audience. In my reading and writing, I became enamored with short stories, essays, letters, poetry, and other short form writing because of the incredible restraint and ingenuity it takes to communicate something with not only complete clarity and vividness but also with the utmost economy.

- How often do you write? Do you have a writing routine? And what inspires you to write?

I write as often as I can, but sadly a busy schedule often doesn't allow me as much time as I would like. When I sit down to write I set aside a large chunk of time and then try to get rid of as many distractions as I can so that my mind can wander without interference. My mind can't switch on a dime into creation mode and I am horrible at searching for any excuse possible not to focus. I love coming up with ideas and making endless outlines but tend to put off the actual writing as much as possible! However, it is always easier to keep going than it is to start in the first place. Inertia and all that!

- How does it feel to have your work recognised?

It feels fantastic to have my work recognized. Writing is a very lonely activity, and it so easily can drift into the realms of doubt and dejection. Having a little boost - whether its a win, getting on a short list, a long list or any other kind of not "no" - lets you know you're on the right track and is invaluable for morale!

- What's the best thing and the most challenging thing about writing a Story?

The best thing, for me, is when I crack some piece of the puzzle I've been agonizing over. Whether it's devising an interesting plot point, or writing the perfect joke, or finding a really satisfying combination of words, its just so satisfying. The most challenging thing is the daunting feeling of staring at a blank page and knowing I have to create a whole world where there is nothing! And, conversely, knowing when to stop. It can be very difficult to recognize when more edits are just making things different and not 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?

I have been working on Vibrant in different iterations for a few years now. I am endlessly fascinated by how emotions and other unseen "forces" can physically affect our bodies. In my life, I have had several medical conditions that had no rational explanation, but occurred during times of great emotional stress. The visible scars and marks on our bodies lay out a map of the physically traumatic events we have been through and how they have healed. What if you could see the map of all the emotional events you have been through and heal them similarly? What does a broken heart look like? What does it do to your eyes to witness something agonizing? And what is that damage preventing you from seeing?

- Can you please give us a few tips about writing a Story?

It is easy to get into the weeds when you are writing a story and start to second guess every single choice you are making. I always just try and remember, it can't be right or wrong, it's all made up! And at the end of the day, if I love my characters and the story that I'm telling, no matter the outcome it is a worthwhile experience.

- Lastly, do you recommend the writers give a go on LISP?

Absolutely! You never know what is going to happen. I was quite discouraged after my story was rejected from several other competitions, but I saw LISP and decided to enter just one last one. And what do you know, I was a finalist!



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