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Susan King, LISP 2022 Short Story Finalist by 'Growing Pains'

LISP 2022 Short Story Finalist 'Growing Pains' by Susan King

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

I live in County Durham and work part-time as a self-employed bookkeeper for charities. I am also studying part-time for an MA in Creative Writing at Newcastle University. When not working or writing, I tend my two allotments and travel abroad whenever I can.

When and how did you get into writing?

I began writing in the 1990s when I was undergoing psychotherapy and would write out my thoughts and feelings for my therapist to read. She suggested I join a creative writing group. I did and I’ve been writing fiction ever since.

How often do you write?

I write every day.

Do you have a writing routine?

I set my alarm clock for 6 am and after a cup of strong coffee to wake up my brain, I write until 9 am. If I have no afternoon commitments, I’ll return to my desk to write for another couple of hours. During my writing hours, I switch off my phone so I am not tempted to respond to social media feeds.

And what inspires you to write? - Something I read, see or hear sticks in my head and if it doesn’t go away, I know I have to write about it. As I’m writing, the idea develops in ways I’m not expecting and that’s always exciting.

How does it feel to have your work recognised?

It is a real boost; a writer is always struggling with inner doubts, and to have one’s writing appreciated, validates all the hard work that’s gone into producing it.

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

The best thing is creating characters who become real to me and following them on their journey through the story. They often surprise me and take a different direction than the one I’d planned. The most challenging thing is finding a satisfying ending, one that feels right but isn’t too contrived.

How did you develop the idea for your LISP-selected story?

After a long break from writing, I decided to give myself a project during the first covid lockdown and write 10 stories over one year (I thought the covid restrictions would last that long.) Growing Pains was the 10th story.

Is there a story behind your story?

The idea came when a friend told me her neighbour copied whatever she did in her garden. I thought, ‘What if I took it a step further and explored the growing rivalry between two gardeners which becomes darker as the rivalry escalates?

And, how long have you been working on it?

It took about a month to write and rewrite.

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

The most important advice is not to give up. Write the first draft to get the idea on the page without worrying about whether the writing is any good or not. Use rewriting and editing to shape and polish.

- What's the best thing and the most challenging thing about competitions?

The best thing is having a deadline; it makes you focus and polish your story to the best of your ability. The most challenging thing is dealing with disappointment when you aren’t placed. It’s important not to regard this as a failure and allow it to erode your confidence or deter you from submitting to other competitions.

- Lastly, do you recommend the writers submit their stories/screenplays to LISP?

Definitely. If you don’t submit, you’ll lose the chance of winning and having your work published.



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