Lauri Griffin: Third Place Spring 2011 Contest Winner
The Muffin welcomes third place winner, Lauri Griffin, for her story, "The Universe's Weird Sense of Humor." If you haven't had a chance to read it yet, please do so here.
WOW: Welcome, Lauri, to the Muffin--for the second time. You were also a flash fiction contest winner in Spring 2007! What gave you the idea for this contest's winning story "The Universe's Weird Sense of Humor?"
Lauri: My boys were watching Transformers at the movie theatre; I was in a coffee shop, waiting for the movie to be over. Three women beside me were talking loudly, complaining about their kids. One had a college freshman daughter who wanted to drop out of school and get married because she had met her soulmate. The other women laughed at that. And one said she wouldn't know what to do with a soulmate if he showed up finally. And my brain said "hmmmm."
WOW: Eavesdropping is a writer's best friend! How were you able to tell a complete story in so few words?
Lauri: Thank you! I tried to just hint at things, so the reader would know this is a woman who has lived a full life. Usually I wouldn't put backstory into flash fiction piece because you just don't really have the time or words. But this woman's past was the story, the hunt for someone she was convinced was there and that full life.
WOW: Why do you enjoy writing flash fiction?
Lauri: I like the challenge of getting a story into such a tiny space, Plus, writing novels is a huge time commitment--you are going to be living with that story and those characters for years. With flash fiction, you can experiment with different characters and types of stories. You can play with it. And I think it makes all writing tighter, when you try to get so much packed into so little.
WOW: All terrific points! You have also written a novel, for which you are seeking representation. Can you tell us a little about your novel?
Lauri: It's about a young woman who wants to save the world's stories, but she doesn't know her own. She has memories that don't seem to be hers and scars on her leg that no one has ever been willing to explain. She doesn't want any more stories to be lost or forgotten because she is convinced that somewhere in our fairytales, myths, and legends are clues to a way of being, a chance for humanity to finally get it right. Her plans for a story archivist internship and her search for her own story are complicated by a mother who periodically disappears, a new boyfriend who sees colors when he hears music and whispers the science of sound to her in early morning hours, inheriting a monster of a dog, and trying to save the vaudeville stories of her landlady before they are lost in a cloud of senility. It's a story about building your own truth and meaning.
WOW: It sounds fascinating. Good luck with it! Tell us about your blog. Why did you decide to start and maintain a blog?
Lauri: A writing friend/mentor told me to start a blog. At first it really scared me, which seems laughable now. I find blogging to be a great way to connect with people. I love to get comments, especially from other countries and people I wouldn't otherwise know. I'm so inspired by other blogs, too. I love to learn about what people are learning, listening to, discovering, cooking, reading, creating, or growing. And I love to share all of that on my blog. We don't always have time to really share all those thoughts in our daily lives.
WOW: So true! Besides writing, you are a mother, a coordinator for a non-profit literacy program, and have a few hobbies. How do you fit it all in? When is your best time to write?
Lauri: I so wish I had good advice for people on how to balance it all. I know I'm always looking for those answers. The truth is that writing gets pushed aside a lot. My plans for anything at all pushed aside a lot. With kids, there is always something--a project, supplies to buy, places to drive them, a doctor's appt, a test to study for, and yet another meal to cook. I often use the Pomodoro technique, basically you work on one task for 25 minutes, have a five minute break, and then move on to the next task. It keeps me focused, on task, and it doesn't leave time to be perfectionistic or obsessive. You do what you can in that time.
I carry little notebooks everywhere, and I try to be open to inspiration. Like eavesdropping at the coffee shop, or listening to story on NPR, or just really paying attention to the world around me. This summer, I saw a young woman downtown carrying a shiny pink Christmas tree. Don't you know there's a story there? Was it a gift, or a joke, or for a play, or was she just moving and it wouldn't fit in her car?
My best time to write is when I'm by myself, but that doesn't happen all that often. Now that my boys are all teenagers, I use my noise canceling headphones a lot. You can't do that with little ones, but it's a great way to tune out their tv shows and games. And yet I'm still there if they need me.
WOW: Thank you, Lauri, for taking time out to talk with us today and share your ideas. What's next in store for your writing career?
Lauri: I had a very short story being featured at OneFortyFiction.com on September 16th. The challenge for this site is to write a story in 140 characters or less. And I have a few other projects in the works.
This interview conducted by Margo L. Dill (http://margodill.com/blog) .