Traci Mullins, Flash Fiction Finalist
- Can you please tell us about you? Where do you live and how is your daily life?
I live in a sweet small town in the San Juan mountains of Colorado. The peaks surrounding us and the rivers, lakes, and thousands of acres of forest are a daily balm for the soul. I have been a non-fiction book editor for more than 35 years, working mostly on self-help and spirituality books with authors all over the country. I look out at the evergreens from my home office and feel grateful every day for my simple, quiet life and for finding a career that suits me perfectly.
- When did you start writing? How often do you write? We want to learn all about your writing life!
I discovered flash fiction about two years ago and was instantly enamored with it. It was a welcome change from the writing I do in my day job. Plus, I was looking for a hobby! The first two stories I wrote were published in Flash Fiction Magazine, which gave me enough confidence to keep writing. Many rejections and acceptances later, I have had work published in three print anthologies, Panoply, Spelk, Fictive Dream, Flash Boulevard, Blink-Ink, Dime Show Review, Ellipsis Zine, Cabinet of Heed, Fantasia Divinity, and many others. Unlike many writers, I write in spurts, often going months in between. While I'd like to be much more prolific, I strive for quality over quantity and remind myself that I'm not in a race.
- How did you feel when you learned that you are a Finalist on The London Independent Story Prize? How does it feel to have your work recognised?
I was so delighted to be named a finalist for the prize for the second time! Quite blown away, actually, considering the many other fine writers submitting. To have my work recognized is humbling but also confidence boosting. It makes me want to keep honing my craft so I am worthy of any recognition I receive.
- What's the best thing and the hardest thing about writing a Flash-Fiction?
I read somewhere that flash is like a work of art on a grain of rice. To me, this describes it perfectly: every word must be carefully selected and artistically combined to create a tiny but mighty whole that impacts the reader on a visceral level. Being a book editor and writing non-fiction copiously through the years, I thought I knew a lot about writing before I discovered flash. Now I come to the page knowing that I'll be called upon to communicate in a whole new way, and I love the challenge of putting big thoughts and feelings into small packages.
- 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?
As with many of my stories, there is an autobiographical element. In "A Wake Observed," I created an imaginary scenario of something I wish would happen but probably won't. I love that I can write different endings to the stories of my life and reframe them in a healing way.
- Can you please give us a few tips about writing a 300-word flash-fiction story?
Besides the obvious encouragement to choose each word carefully, I've learned how important it is to sit with a story for an extended time before sending it out alone into the world. I didn't used to do this, but now I put each story aside for several days, sometimes weeks, and every time I come back to it, I see ways to make it better. When I remember that I'm striving to create a work of art, I honor the labor that this entails as well as the story itself. If a story deserves to be told, it deserves my utmost patience and care. I know the difference now between a first and final draft, and in the rewriting process I can strip a story down to the bone in a way that has maximum emotional impact.
- What's the best thing about writing competitions?
Having deadline pressure usually serves me well since I don't write every day, or even every month. The best thing about competitions for me, though, is the opportunity to have my work recognized in a way that increases my confidence. I still consider myself a beginner, so I value the encouragement I receive each time someone deems my work to be worthy of publication.
-Lastly, do you recommend the writers to give it a go on flash fiction story and LISP?
Absolutely! If I can be a finalist twice, it goes to show that winning is attainable. Also, LISP does a fantastic job highlighting writers and their stories on social media. I'm excited that what I've written will actually be read. Thank you, judges!