Meet Beth D. Mendel, Summer 2014 Flash Fiction Runner Up
Do we ever really say goodbye? This is one of the questions posed in Beth Mendel’s flash fiction entry, The Wait. Please take a moment to read this stirring piece as it examines pain, death, grief, and hope. Then, come back for an interview with Beth D. Mendel, one of our Summer 2014 runners up.
Beth has been an avid reader her entire life. She loves “road trips to nowhere for no reason,” as her husband describes them, summer vacations in the Appalachian Mountains, her garden, holidays, music, chocolate, and dinnertime with her husband and children. She has a B.S. in microbiology with a minor in chemistry and until recently worked at home as a medical transcriptionist. When she’s not engrossed in homework, her herb garden, laundry, or other household responsibilities, she’s writing or studying about writing. She has recently joined the WordPress community and is beginning to develop a blog there, bethmendel.wordpress.com. This is her first writing contest, and she’s honored and thrilled to be a part of it.
WOW: Hello Beth, congratulations on being one of our Summer 2014 runner up winners! What was your inspiration for The Wait?
Beth: I was at a point in my “one huge project” (see below) where I wanted to begin exploring some of the thoughts and emotions associated with the death of a character. The Wait was my attempt to do that, to look at it in the microscopic sense, examining only a very small sliver of the whole experience.
WOW: A science major turned creative writer! Tell us a little about your journey into writing.
Beth: I’ve always liked reading and writing and liked my literature classes almost as much as I liked my science classes, but it wasn’t until about 3 years ago that I began to actually put pen to paper with the purpose of telling a story. At that time, I had a friend who was writing. She shared with me a lot of the process she was going through, would bounce ideas and paragraphs off me. The process was fascinating to me, from idea to words. After a few months of this, I asked her what she thought about an idea I had. She was very encouraging, very supportive, and we sort of became secret writing buddies.
WOW: What prompted you to enter WOW’s contest?
Beth: At the end of the summer, I left my job and completely left a field I’d worked in for 15 years. It was at a point of huge burn out for me. I needed to do something different, to see myself differently, and I decided that I wanted to give more of myself to writing, which I’d come to really enjoy doing. By then, I’d been writing but not sharing my work for about 2-1/2 years. WOW’s contest was a good way to get some objective feedback (the critique – thank you!) on what I was doing. To be chosen as a Runner Up was exciting and a huge boost to my confidence.
WOW: It can be a bit scary to share one’s writing—and request a critique. Kudos for being one of the brave ones! I read that you have “one long story that has turned into one huge project.” Tell us more about this project!
Beth: When I started writing a few years ago, I had an idea that was more or less just a “kind of” beginning, a definite middle, and no real end. But the creative process, to me, is the most fascinating--the way an idea comes from somewhere and evolves into its own entity, the story. In this case, the story has become a novel that follows the lives of four major characters.
WOW: How exciting! Keep us posted—we’d love to celebrate with you when your novel is finished. You mentioned you are an avid reader; what authors have most influenced you?
Beth: There are many, but the first two who come immediately to mind, in this order, are Carl Sagan and Diana Gabaldon--Carl Sagan because his popular writing, while intended for laypeople, isn’t shallow… it doesn’t skim the surface but instead digs in and makes you think. Diana Gabaldon… because her writing is beautiful… beautifully descriptive, beautifully emotional, beautifully funny, and on and on. A few others whose writing I really enjoy are Jeff Vandermeer, Anthony Doerr, Anthony Marra, and Chris Bohjalian… the big influence with these is intensity (of emotions, of descriptions, but particularly emotions… I like to be sucked into a story and have incredible respect for writers who can make me really feel the characters’ emotions).
WOW: Wonderful choices! Best wishes on your project; we hope to read more from you soon.