Victoria Wright, Runner-Up Spring 2011 Flash Fiction Contest

Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Congratulations to Victoria Wright, runner-up in the Spring 2011 Flash Fiction contest with her winning story, "Sunday in the Dark with Dad." Victoria lives in the Berkshires in Massachusetts, where she is a full-time freelance editor and occasional writer. She enjoys writing flash fiction because it requires the discipline she asks her clients to develop—choose words with care, tighten sentences, and make every idea count. She concedes that it is easier to preach this discipline than to practice it.

Several of Victoria’s short, humorous essays were first published in The Women’s Times, and she had an essay included in Midlife Clarity: Epiphanies from Grown-Up Girls, published by Beyond Words Publishing. She is compiling a book of her stories, essays, and a few humorous haiku, which she will self-publish as an e-book. For more information, find Victoria on Facebook, on LinkedIn, and of course, her website, Bookmark Services.

Victoria’s son and daughter, both in college, are excited about their mom’s success in this contest, as are the rest of her family and friends—among whom she includes many of her editing clients.

WOW: Welcome to The Muffin, Victoria and congratulations in placing in the flash fiction contest. Where did you get the idea for "Sunday in the Dark with Dad"?

Victoria: I took a memory from my youth and massaged it, mixed it with imagination, and compressed it into a vignette.

WOW: What themes are you exploring in your flash fiction piece?

Victoria: It seems to me that the immediate theme is unhappy relationships, but I also explored the relationship between art and life. Life is rarely as interesting as art, because it happens haphazardly and with no opportunity to edit it. But to tell you the truth, I generally don’t set out to explore themes. If I’m lucky, they’re visible in retrospect. I look for moments, or the intersection of moments. It’s like finding the perfect photographic shot—even if you are looking for it, getting it is a crapshoot.

WOW: So true! Why do you think writers should enter contests like this one? Why do you?

Victoria: For fame and glory, of course! I enter contests and submit pieces to magazines in part to build my career and in part for validation. I generally know when a piece works. In fact, when I used to attend writers' groups, I always would ask that people stick to telling me what did not work for them—what was corny or awkward or false. I’ve always been pretty confident that I know what’s good; but when I’m not sure, that’s when I want the input.

WOW: That makes perfect sense! Your bio says you plan to self-publish an e-book of your work. What will the topic of the book be?

Victoria: I’m collecting a bunch of my writing—some of it has been published, some not—and packaging it in a very inexpensive digital form. If there’s a theme at all, it’s what I think about pretty much everything. Life, love, politics, people. My essays tend to be humorous, but my short stories are more like the one that placed in your contest—desperately depressing. I don't know why that is. Who said that life is a tragedy to those who feel and a comedy to these who think? I guess I feel when I write fiction and think when I write humor.

WOW: Why are you deciding to do an e-book? They are so popular right now--our entire issue was dedicated to them.

Victoria: I am happy to see that you’ve devoted an issue to them since I provide conversion services to authors; but it’s not that they’re popular right now, it’s that they are here to stay. It makes sense. E-readers are the new iPods. Why not carry all of your books with you? Why not publish a book digitally? There’s very little upfront cost; and even more to the point, readers can buy terrific inexpensive books that publishers, who are afraid to buy anything unproven anymore, have overlooked. Digital publishing—both e-books and hard copy—has opened the market to writers who might otherwise have never had a chance. There are success stories that are fabulous. However—and I cannot stress this enough—in order for a book to be taken seriously, it is imperative that a writer hire an editor, even if only for copyediting or a good proofreading. Far too many independently published books look like—you’ll pardon me—crap. It makes it more difficult for the rest of us to be taken seriously; because like or not, we are judged by appearances, and to elect not to fix errors is counterproductive on every level.

WOW: You make some great points. Sometimes, it is so hard to see your own mistakes. Tell us a little about your company, Bookmark Services.

Victoria: Bookmark Services is, as I say in my ad on your site, a full-service editing company. I and my merry band of experts provide assistance ranging from coaching, transcription, developmental editing, and ghost-writing to book proposals, interior layout and cover art, e-book conversion, and to a growing extent, social media marketing consulting. Also, and this is partly in my self-interest (because I get a lot of manuscripts that are in need of combing out), I help writers learn to use Word effectively, instead of fighting with it. In other words, I help them with Word and words.

WOW: I like that. . .Word and words! Anything else you'd like to share about your writing?

Victoria: Ah, my writing. I freely admit that it is far easier to edit someone else’s writing than it is to pour my own soul out onto the page. I write when, and because, I have something to say. Sometimes I start pieces that take years to complete. I put them away until I can’t ignore the sound of their voices anymore. My three pieces of advice are these: never throw anything away (that’s easy on a computer, just start a folder) because you may wish later that you could remember that brilliant sentence/story; keep working, daily, if possible, because practice and discipline are good for you; and never ask a friend or family member to edit your work because their job is to make you happy, which is not the same as making your work better. Hire a pro.

WOW: Thank you, Victoria, for all your words of wisdom and for sharing a little about your editing and writing with us today!

interview conducted by Margo L. Dill,


Karen Wojcik Berner said...

Very nice interview, Victoria. Congratulations on your win!

Suzi Banks Baum said...

Congratulations Victoria. I love that you tooted your own horn. I would not have found you if you'd stayed all quiet and nice in the corner! Lovely interview. I look forward to meeting you some day. Love, Suzi also in the Berkshires

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