Summer '12 Flash Fiction 1st Place Winner: G.G. Silverman
She holds a BFA from the Massachusetts College of Art and also completed the Writing for Children program at the University of Washington. She also owns a branding and graphic design firm.
Ms. Silverman placed as a finalist in the 2012 PNWA annual literary awards for her short story, “The Black Dog of Porto Negro.” She is currently working on her first YA novel, a hilarious feminist twist on the zombie genre. Chat with her on Twitter @GG_Silverman
interview by Marcia Peterson
WOW: Congratulations on winning first place in our Summer 2012 writing contest! What inspired you to enter the contest?
GG: Thank you! I’ve been putting serious effort into launching my writing career over the last few years. I’m building up a body of work, and wanted to test the water for my stories, to get some validation and ultimately publish. WOW! has a great reputation with incredible guest judges every season, so your contest seemed like the right opportunity to do all of that. Having my story published on your site has given me fantastic credibility as a writer.
WOW: Thanks for the kind words about WOW! Can you tell us what encouraged the idea behind your story, The House of Butterflies?
GG: It was inspired by a life-changing conversation with a friend. I was at a critical point with the last draft of my novel, where I had major fears about expressing darker ideas, and she asked how my writing was going. I said I was afraid that when my book was finished and I came out of my shell as a writer, that I’d be seen as a frightening spider instead of a beautiful butterfly, and the world would revile my work. That’s when she told me it was okay to be a spider, that the world needs spiders. So, I’ve embraced my spiderness, meaning, I’m being true to myself as a writer and have accepted my position as someone who explores darker themes. The House of Butterflies has become a sort of personal manifesto. It’s my first published work, and I’m taking it as a sign that I’m becoming who I’m meant to become.
WOW: What a wonderful development for you. I love that you’re embracing your spiderness. Have you always enjoyed the genre, and how did you learn to write great flash fiction?
GG: I discovered flash fiction two years ago. It started as a way to keep writing when I need to take small breaks from my novel. I believe it’s important to write as much as you can, because you get better and faster with practice and time.
Also, I like to write flash fiction when I travel. It’s fun to dash off a story on a flight and have a sense of completion. Though the polishing aspect can be maddening, sometimes requiring up to eleven or twelve drafts. Writing a complete story with a beginning, middle, and end, in a very limited word count, while creating an evocative atmosphere with beautiful description, is quite challenging. But I love it. I really believe that flash fiction makes you a better writer.
It’s also a great way to honor readers who are busy and want a satisfying story they can read quickly. With the increasing popularity of e-readers, I think flash fiction is here to stay.
WOW: It's always interesting to learn about other people's writing routines. Could you tell us when and where you usually write? Do you have favorite tools or habits that get you going?
GG: For starters, I take a long walk every day, and I’m fortunate to live near incredible trails. My favorite walk is through a burnt-out swamp punctuated by dead, spiky trees. A bald eagle is usually perched overhead, and the sky can be really moody. The quiet atmosphere is meditative, and ideas often come to me there. Sometimes they come in the voice of a character. I might record a thought or a scrap of dialogue on my phone with a voice recorder app. If it resonates with me after my walk is done, then it’s something I’m really excited about, and I try to express it in writing.
I’m also a self-employed graphic designer, and keep a flexible work schedule so I can write or edit a few hours each day, usually in the afternoon. But unexpected things do happen, so I’ve learned to seize odd bits of time to write productively in short bursts whenever I can. I usually write first drafts long-hand (if it’s my novel, a chapter at a time) then transcribe and edit on the computer. When I write long-hand, I can do it anywhere, but when I’m on the computer, I prefer the ergonomic set-up of my office. When I’m writing, I have a strict No Internet rule. No Facebook or Twitter. I allow myself only fifteen minutes at the beginning of the day, but I’ll spend more time during lunch or when I’m done for the day, because I believe it’s important to start cultivating an audience and connecting with people.
Once every few months, as a special treat, my husband and I take short road trips to the coast to get away from the distractions of everyday life. We hole up in a cabin and soak up the scenery for inspiration, while getting lots of writing done.
WOW: Walking always yields lots of ideas for me too. What's one bit of advice you would give to aspiring writers?
GG: Discipline and perseverance are everything. Practice writing until you realize that you can’t not write, that you would feel sick if a few days went by and you haven’t written. By then, you’ll develop the momentum and stamina you need to do great work.
WOW: Thanks so much for chatting with us today, G.G.! Before you go, do you have any tips for our readers who may be thinking about entering writing contests?
GG: Rejection is a blessing. It’s an opportunity for you to go back, take another pass at your work, and make it sing.
And, don't rush to submit. Taking an extra day to let a piece breathe, so you can review it with fresh eyes, can make a world of difference.
The Winter 2013 Flash Fiction Contest is OPEN
For details, visit: http://wow-womenonwriting.com/contest.php