Interview with Rebecca Jens, Runner Up in Winter Flash Fiction 2007

Tuesday, June 03, 2008
Rebecca Jens, 2007 Winter Flash Fiction Runner- Up, is a Fort Mill, South Carolina resident who decided five years ago she wanted to be a writer. She started by taking a class with the Institute of Children's Literature and then got side-tracked from creative writing to making money at writing. After changing from children's fiction all the way to working part-time as a stringer for a local paper, she decided she was not cut out to be a reporter and wanted to start writing for enjoyment again instead of money. She has since been working her way slowly back to fiction and is excited to see this piece being considered as it is her first official fiction submission anywhere. Her current day job is as a technical writer/editor for a financial company but she is working towards obtaining a Masters degree in English so she can eventually go into teaching and be able to write more. Some day, she hopes to be brave enough to make the leap into full-time writing.

If you haven’t read Rebecca’s story ‘Kidnapped’ then head on over to

WOW! : Your story Kidnapped is chilling, what was the ‘what if’ moment that inspired this piece?

Rebecca : The prompt submitted by my critique group peer was to write about a sunny, summer day. I prefer happy stories generally so my initial reaction was to picture a calm, dreamy day at the beach. However, I was always giving the guy who proposed the prompt a hard time for writing such dark stories and decided to try my hand at it to see what the attraction was. It was strangely fun being inside the mind of a criminal and has encouraged me to keep the door open to future dark writing.

WOW!: How did the Flash Fiction open prompt help your creative process?

Rebecca : I actually wrote this story about a year ago in response to a writing prompt suggested by a guy in my old critique group. I had always rather liked it but couldn’t find anyone who wanted this type of piece in so short a length so I never submitted it anywhere. I had resolved myself that it would just remain something I had had fun with until I saw this contest was open to everything. That allowed me my first chance to see how this piece might be received.

WOW! : What is your favorite part about being a writer?

Rebecca :
Writing helps me understand myself and my place in the world. It also allows me to create my own world if I don’t like the real one!

WOW! : You mention in you bio that this is you first official fiction submission, how has this publication encouraged you to continue submitting?

Rebecca : I should clarify that this is my first official adult fiction submission anywhere. I submitted several children’s fiction stories to various publication years ago but they were all rejected. I got so discouraged from those rejections and so side-tracked by the possibility of more money and a better chance to get published in the adult world of non-fiction, that I scrapped all fiction writing until this piece. This is the first short story I have written since my initial interest in writing five years ago where I wrote solely for pleasure, without thought of publishing or money. To have it place so high in this contest has given me a tremendous boost of self confidence and encouragement to dust off the other writing ideas and projects I have started over the years but never completed (including a small novel I wrote last November as part of National Novel Writing Month – the only other wholly ‘for fun’ piece of writing I’ve written in a long time).

WOW! :What is your favorite topic or genera to writing in?

Rebecca : I’ve been dabbling in poetry lately (strangely, since I don’t enjoy reading it) and find it is fun to paint with words. Non-fiction writing seems to come easiest for me but overall, I think I prefer fiction because it allows me to create whatever life I want and introduces me to characters that I later learn have been with me all along.

WOW! :What book are you currently reading, and how is that book encouraging you in your writing efforts?

Rebecca : I’m taking some undergraduate English classes at UNCC currently in hopes of getting into the English Masters program next year and eventually hope to be able to leave my current day job to teach writing full-time and write on the side. As such, the bulk of my reading is currently coming from the Heath Anthology of American Literature. At first glance, this probably sounds incredibly dull but actually, it has opened my eyes to the numerous writing avenues available and has helped me realize that my writing does have a place. I used to believe that I was odd for not loving some of the classics like Catcher in the Rye and for having a general loathing of poetry, but I’ve found I’m not the only one who feels this way. This class and book have reinforced what I’m learning as I age, that everyone sees life differently and as such, may get something out of my writing they couldn’t get anywhere else. Throughout history, the popular writers have tended to get all the attention but I have often found that I personally get more from an obscure writer who very few, if any, people have ever really heard about. I’m hoping maybe I can be that writer.

WOW! :How did your time in newspaper writing help develop your skills as a writer?

Rebecca : It gave me confidence to see my writing in print. Our confidence as writers shouldn’t have to come from outside ourselves but it sure does help when we are validated by people who know what they’re doing. It also taught me that I don’t like the confines of journalism but much prefer the broadness allowed with fiction.

WOW! :You said that you’ve been writing for about five years now, was there a moment before or during that time, which you finally felt like a writer?

Rebecca : Honestly, I still don’t “feel” like a writer. I think I’m still trying to escape the illusion that I’ll only be a ‘real’ writer when I am doing it full-time, being constantly published and paid. I’ve read enough to know that you never really arrive at this perfect point though and that even the best of writers still get rejections but I’m still working on getting my heart to buy into what I know in my head to be true: I am a writer because I write.

WOW! :What goals have you set for your writing in 2008?

Rebecca : To complete the re-write of my novel, work on my nonfiction book about writing (ongoing) and set up a website. At the very least, I will submit an entry to the WOW Spring 2008 contest!

WOW! :
What words of encouragement can you give to other writer’s hoping to submit to future WOW-Flash Fiction Contests?

Rebecca : You have a much better chance than you think. I subscribe to C. Hope Clark’s Funds for Writers weekly newsletter. She strongly recommends contests so, after seeing this one in her newsletter, I decided to give it a shot. There were a lot worse things I could spend $5 on I thought. Plus, with 25 honorable mentions, 7 runners up and 3 top placements, I thought a 1 in 35 chance at any one of those far outweighed the 1 to 0 chance I often feel I have in trying to convince an editor who hasn’t solicited any work to buy my work.


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