Meet Flash Fiction Runner Up, Nina Skaya!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Nina Skaya grew up in Westport, Connecticut, studied philosophy at Princeton and music at the University of Michigan, and has worked as an acquisitions editor for Greenwood Publishing Group and as a regular contributor to Music Alive!, an educational music magazine. She plays oboe and English horn in several ensembles in her new home of Washington, DC.

Nina has studied writing at the Write Yourself Free school in Westport where she has learned, among many other things, to write more, faster, and better. Her first published short story appeared in Niche Lit Magazine in 2015. Inspired by a year-long trip to Italy, Nina is working on a humorous novel set in Rome and New York City.

You can read Nina's flash fiction piece here.

interview by Marcia Peterson

WOW: Congratulations on your top ten win in our Fall 2015 Flash Fiction competition! What inspired you to enter the contest?

Nina: I had a bunch of short pieces in my files and I wanted to see what flash fiction contests were out there. Fortunately, I stumbled across the WOW contest. I liked the way the website features the winning entries. It feels very friendly and personal.

WOW: Can you tell us what encouraged the idea behind your story, "Tuesdays and Fridays?" I really enjoyed it and I felt like I was there, living through the character.

Nina: Thank you! I went through a period of using song lyrics as prompts for free-writes, and “Tuesdays and Fridays” came out of one of those exercises. I was making my way through one of my favorite albums: Palomine by the Dutch band Bettie Serveert. The song "Leg" has the lyrics:

Tuesdays and Fridays

I'd wait at the bus stop

And guess who won't show up

I'm tired of waiting for you.

I hope that the band is flattered by the use of their lyrics and doesn't mind lending me a few phrases here and there!

WOW: I would think they'd be pleased to have inspired a winning fiction piece. You mention that you learned to write more, faster, and better at the Write Yourself Free school in Westport, Connecticut. We’d love to know how to do that!

Nina: The lyric prompt exercise came straight out of a class with Patrick McCord of Write Yourself Free. Timed free-writes are a good way to get yourself writing faster. Find a prompt, set the timer, write longhand and just go for it. Don't stop to think. Just write. A lot of my favorite pieces have come out of exercises like this. I wind up with things that I would have never come up with if I'd stopped to plot out my writing. Now that I've done a lot of these exercises, I can channel that feeling into my longer pieces.

Another important thing I've learned is that you can write a lot in just 10 or 15 minutes. Waiting for a large block of free time isn't really necessary.

That’s my little bit of insight into the “more” and “faster” parts. Writing better came from taking classes with a great teacher.

WOW: Great ideas. Can you also share any good books you’ve read lately?

Nina: I’ve been reading mostly short stories lately. Here are some of my all-time favorite books; the kind that I buy multiple copies of to give away:

Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shtyengart

White Noise by Don Delillo

Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me by Richard Farina

First Light by Charles Baxter

WOW: Thanks so much for chatting with us today, Nina! Before you go, do you have a favorite favorite writing tip or advice for our readers?

Nina: Deadlines. I've accomplished the most when I've set a deadline for myself. Actually, that's only half of it. The other half is telling my friends about the deadline so that I convince myself that I really must meet it and it's not arbitrary. I've noticed that having a deadline removes the idea that I have a choice about writing every day. Making that choice every day is exhausting. Better (at least for me) to make one choice, set the deadline, and know that every day I'll write in order to meet my goal. Of course, I have to pick the deadline and the goal... and sometimes that can take a while!


Our Spring Flash Fiction contest is OPEN.
For details and entry, visit our contest page!



Angela Mackintosh said...

I always love finding out how a story was created and this is great! I wouldn't have guessed it came from a song lyric and a free-write. Nina, what I love about your story, "Tuesdays and Fridays" is your main character's point of view. It's a breath of fresh air and unique from all the other pieces I've read over the years. Great interview! Thanks for sharing your favorite books, too. :)

Unknown said...

Nina- I really enjoyed your story. Thanks for putting it out there.

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