Interview with Michelle Dwyer, 2013 Fall Flash Fiction Contest Runner-Up
Michelle fell in love with writing after taking her first creative writing class in high school. She took a break from the craft to attend to life’s details, but soon returned to her passion. She received a Master of Business Administration from Texas A&M University Central Texas and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from National University in La Jolla, California. She does freelance work for Demand Media Studios as a business, finance, and careers contributor. She writes novels, and has just completed her breakout work, Understanding the Affair, written under her pen name, Krymzen Hall. She is an avid runner, fitness enthusiast, and a Certified Personal Trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She has overcome many obstacles and has the highest respect for every individual running down a dream, and she encourages all you to NEVER GIVE UP. Michelle has a ways to go, not there yet, but believes in the saying: Success is the journey, not the destination.
She lives in Texas, has two sons, and is one-proud-Aggie mom!
If you haven't done so already, read Michelle's award-winning story "Lighthouses," and then return here for a conversation with the author.
WOW: Congratulations on placing in the 2013 Fall Flash Fiction Contest! What was the inspiration for your short story, or what prompted you to write this particular story?
Michelle: Well, originally I wanted to write two stories. I wanted to exemplify self-sacrifice in one, and unrequited love in the other. Both topics, I feel, resonate with readers. However, it was important to me that these stories provide a fresh take on what can seem like overused plots. The only way I believed I could make these stories “pop” was to combine them. The platonic relationship between a man and woman made for a good mixing of the two. But I have to admit, I was still skeptical that it could work. I had to make sure I painted a vivid image of what our heroine felt, or the story would have fallen flat.
WOW: Thank you for sharing that insight into the creation of your story. In general, what is your writing process like?
Michelle: I do my best writing early morning and early to late evening. I feel at peace when I get up before everybody else in the world, so to speak, and I also feel a sense of calm when the sun sets, as if the day is going through its cool down cardio (hey, I’m a trainer, lol). It sounds crazy, but I feel like the world belongs to me, and my head is clear enough to focus on writing at these times. I also listen to music when I write, softer when I write sensual scenes and more hard-core if I need to create some type of action or violence. I write every day--I don’t care if it’s just one sentence. And notes, notes, notes. I always write notes when the thoughts enter my head. I guess all of us writers do that.
WOW: Jotting down notes is a great idea! I often have ideas when I am not in a position to write them down – like while in the shower or while exercising. In your bio, you mention that you are a runner and fitness enthusiast. Do you notice any connection between your running/fitness training and your writing?
Michelle: Fitness sparks my creativity. I have come up with some of my favorite plots, themes, and settings while running on the treadmill and stepping on the tread climber. One thing about writers is that we carry the craft with us. We can never stop. When we’re not writing, we’re thinking about writing. Working out can be an isolating experience, much like writing, and any writer will tell you that being alone with your thoughts is an optimal time to invent a story. Also, exercising and writing both take tremendous sacrifice and usually don’t pay off immediately. You have to keep going to see results. Besides falling in love, nothing makes you feel better than taking care of yourself and others. Personal training allows me to do this. When I feel good, and make others feel good, I write better.
WOW: I agree with you there – feeling good in mentally leads to feeling good physically, and vice versa. Both assist in the writing process. If you could have dinner with any writer, dead or alive, who would you choose, and why?
Michelle: By far, Stephen King. He is so raw and real. I have read On Writing many times and I find his honesty refreshing. He also has a way of telling us, his fellow writers, that it’s okay to curse, break boundaries, and be ourselves. He doesn’t apologize for it either. He knows who he is and gives us permission, if you will, to write what scares people and what makes them uncomfortable.
WOW: Are you working on any other writing projects right now?
Michelle: I freelance for Demand Media Studios, and contribute business and career articles as often as I can. Of course I’m always creating contest entries for WOW! and working on my novels. I’m preparing to market my breakout novel, Understanding the Affair, more intensely in the upcoming month. I train clients as well, so I have to balance my passion and gift for writing with my personal training career. But I love them both so it makes me a happy author!
WOW: That’s excellent! Happy authors make us happy! Anything else you’d like to add?
Michelle: Yes. I’d like to share what I’ve learned about rejection in the hope that I can give our fellow writers some perspective. Rejection, we know, is synonymous with writing. When I receive rejections, like all of us, it hurts. For a while, early on, I felt like a failure and a loser with each “Thanks, but we’ll pass.” But I’ve come to realize that you can’t call yourself a loser if the game isn’t over. And we, as writers, call the game. If you query 50 agents, and get 50 rejections, and then give up, well, you’re forfeiting the game, and yes, you’ve lost. But, if you send that 51st query letter, you’re still playing. In other words, until you give up, you can’t say you’ve truly been rejected, because all you need is one yes. I truly believe, beyond anything, that if we keep going and pursue what we want, we will eventually find success, in whatever way each of us defines it. :-)
WOW: Thank you for your thoughtful and insightful responses, and we wish you the best of luck with your future writing endeavors!
Interviewed by: Anne Greenawalt, writer and writing instructor