Ruth Arkush, LISP 4th Quarter 2020 Official Selection, Flash Fiction
LISP 4th Quarter 2020 Official Selection, Flash Fiction, 'Wild' by Ruth Arkush
Can you please tell us about your daily life?
I work as an acupuncturist and massage therapist specialising in women's health. I am passionate about supporting women on their journeys of fertility, pregnancy and post-partum, and I work from my own clinic in a room of my home. I live in a small village and take regular walks in the surrounding nature - a critical part of my daily life. However, my daily life just changed dramatically as I gave birth just 3 weeks ago! So suddenly my days look very different - full of feeding, nappy changes, and attempts to take naps. It's a whole new world, difficult and wonderful at the same time. When did you start writing? How often do you write? I remember realising I loved to write when I was about 8 years' old. I had written a creative writing about a magical garden for school and the teacher read it out to the class. I felt so proud! I have written ever since, not with any set frequency, but rather when something triggers my emotions. As a teenager I loved to write poetry, but as an adult I have enjoyed writing non-fiction prose - writings about my travels, or challenges in life that arouse emotion. How does it feel to have your work recognised?
Almost unbelievable! Writing for me is a hobby, but not one I do with any set frequency or discipline. I write for myself, and when I write it's often because it's the only thing I can do to deal with something troubling or amazing. So to have my work recognised is incredibly exciting and gratifying. It's all thanks to Shoshana, a woman in my community who started a writing group, and suggested I enter this piece into a competition. It opened up a world to me and I'm very grateful for that. What's the best thing and the hardest thing about writing a Flash-Fiction?
I love that it's short and succinct and so demands a focused message. I love that every word is valuable and nothing superfluous. This is also the hardest thing about it! How can you write so few words about something full of depth and complexity? But less is more, and nuance is everything. The briefest pieces can make the biggest changes. 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?
It is the product of a task given to us in my writing group: write a piece weaving together a big news story, a small news story, and something personal from your life. So I wrote from the heart, about news stories that had recently moved me: Kamala Harris becoming US Vice-President, and a project to re-wild Britain. Something personal from my daily life was my pregnancy, which was very challenging at the time. It was my 2nd pregnancy - my first ended in stillbirth - and this made for a very worrying second pregnancy. How can I move through it without being stricken by fear? How can I be excited while still grieving the loss of my first child? These questions were preoccupying me at the time of writing the piece, and meant that my emotions were heightened - and heightened emotions trigger my best writing. I worked on it very briefly. We were set the task, and the words just poured out of me. I had been recently moved by the two news stories I mentioned, and it seemed so natural to connect them and my own story. As I wrote, the motif of wildness came through very quickly: wildness, returning to our most native selves, and how this intersects with the tension between work and family that women so often face. In the second paragraph, re-wilding in general and wolves specifically represent being true to our native desires. Just like a wolf inspires fear, so too does us being authentic inspire fear, threatening the expected way of things. A wolf's graceful and dangerous presence captured both the walk I myself was walking towards motherhood - a walk to my true self, carrying all the grief and all the joy at once, and also captured the recognition that this is nothing new. Women have always, and will always, walk such walks. Can you please give us a few tips about writing a flash-fiction story?
Write from the heart. Write what's inspiring you. Less is more. What's the best thing and the hardest thing about writing competitions?
This was my first one.. The best thing is the thrill involved in entering and potentially winning, and the worst is the doubt you might have in yourself. Lastly, do you recommend the writers to give it a go on LISP?
Definitely. There's nothing to lose.