Rosaleen Lynch, Flash Fiction Semi-Finalist, LISP 3rd Quarter 2020
Can you please tell us about your daily life?
I’m a youth and community worker based in the East End of London. I’m also a Uni practice supervisor and Open University tutor and volunteer with a local charity Community Parents, so I get to meet a lot of amazing people (mostly online at the moment).
When did you start writing? How often do you write?
As a teenager in Ireland, the poem I wrote about the death of my grandfather was published in my school magazine. My next publication was nearly 30 years later with life in between. Now in my spare time I do something to do with writing most days, whether it’s tapping, editing and submitting or reading flash and short stories, talking about writing with my partner (also a writer) or going to an online workshop or LitFest.
How does it feel to have your work recognised?
Always exciting! The process of writing doesn’t feel finished until someone reads it. My first reader is my partner, and the next step is to get it in shape for others.
I especially love being part of a themed collection like the Neighbours anthology (Crack the Spine) or the Rebellion issue (Paper and Ink) or the Motherhood issue (The London Reader) or celebrating 100 years of women’s suffrage in The Word for Freedom (Retreat West). This year I was excited that my story ‘Other Uses for a Woman’s Body’ won the International Women’s Day 2020 Micro Fiction Competition (Lunate Fiction) and my unpublished collection of the same title came second in the EllipsisZine Flash Collection Competition 2020. When this kind of work gets recognised, I feel like I’m part of the collective action of the writing community. Check out more of my work at 52Quotes.blogspot.com.
What’s the best thing and the hardest thing about writing a Flash-Fiction?
The best and the hardest thing about writing flash fiction is the challenge of trying to get a buffet into a bite.
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?
‘The Proper Respect for Water’ started in a Woolwich Writers online workshop during lock-down after watching the stop-motion short film ‘Negative Space’ (2017) by Max Porter and Ru Kuwuhata with the first line ‘My Dad taught me how to pack.’ I have very little autobiographical memory, so l can only remember my Dad teaching me how to swim, so I created the character of a girl trying to learn to swim in the patriarchal sea, but only able to manage the hegemonic float until her childhood identity is drowned and she emerges understanding the power of water.
Years ago I remember reading Eagleton’s description of ‘hegemony’ as ‘the ways in which a governing power wins consent to its rule from those it subjugates’ (1991). Like the father and the daughter, like the sea and the swimmer. I wonder how much consent I give to be ruled by patriarchy and how much of my history is written by others, and how much power people who have memories of my life have over me and the power that Covid deniers have over the health of others when they don’t follow safety measures like on a boat on the sea. However, that’s just what I had in mind when I wrote it, you might read it differently!
Can you please give us a few tips about writing a 300-word flash-fiction story?
I only know what works (sometimes) for me. I find an idea, bump it up against another or go a direction that’s slightly askew, add some imagery and research, uncover my theme and edit. I recommend living with another writer for editorial insights and to read it out loud to (workshopping works too). And always write down your ideas – a phone is the perfect notebook!
What’s the best thing and the hardest thing about writing competitions?
The hardest thing can be the cost – financial and emotional, however many comps can be free, have free places or be sponsored, and rejection does get easier (though an acceptance or two every so often does help).
The best thing about writing comps are the deadlines that motivate me to write something I might not have written. Then there’s the lovely writing community chatter on Twitter about short lists and long lists, celebration and commiseration. And then if your story gets published, more people get to read what you’ve written. Woo hoo!