Meet Tina Tippett, Runner Up in the Winter 2018 Flash Fiction Contest

Tuesday, July 17, 2018
Tina Tippett makes her living as a legal assistant in a busy law firm just outside of Baltimore. She began jotting poetry in the margins of her schoolwork in elementary school and continued to do so through her career as an English major at the University of Maryland.

A single mom, writing often took a backseat to balancing work and home-schooling her two beautiful daughters. After losing her mother in 2001, she rediscovered the cathartic quality of writing and was able to complete her first novel, Dreams of Mother, the following year. A series of life-changing events brought on a writing hiatus which lasted until 2014. That year, she reached back and self-published Dreams of Mother.

Empty-nested within the last year, she’s discovering the conflicting distress and freedom that come with the territory, and with encouragement from her fiancé, she’s spending some of that extra time reconnecting with her muses. She is enjoying re-honing her skills on flash fiction, short stories and writing lyrics with fiancé David, a bluegrass musician.

She remains very close to her two daughters, one of whom is married and pursuing a degree in early childhood education and the other who has a passion for creative writing as well. She currently resides in Eldersburg, Maryland with her fiancé and their senior citizen cat, Max.

Tina is an avid reader of what she wants to write—women’s mainstream literature. She is working on her second novel, and planning her October wedding to her best friend, David.

One of her most treasured material items is the hard copy of Wally Lamb’s I Know This Much is True, which he autographed to her during a speaking engagement in 2014. The inscription reads, “All the best to a fellow scribe. Enjoy the journey.” Placing in the top ten in her first flash fiction contest has bolstered her confidence—she is taking Mr. Lamb’s advice.

If her name sounds familiar it's because Tina also placed in the Fall 2017 WOW! Flash Fiction Contest! Read Tina's latest award-winning story, Because I Had No Shoes, and then return here to learn more about the writer.

WOW: Welcome, Tina, and congratulations once again! "Because I Had No Shoes" is such a unique and heartwarming story. Where did you first get the idea to write this?

Tina: My mother was quite the quoter of clichés and old adages, one of which was “I cried because I had no shoes, until I saw a man who had no feet.” If you Google the origins of that saying, you’ll come up with a dozen different sources, so I honestly have no idea of its origin. But for me, it was my mother’s way of reminding us never to feel sorry for ourselves. I thought of this saying in conjunction with some women’s adoration for shoes (my own daughters fall into that category). The two ideas together morphed into a story of a young woman’s resilience to adversity. It wasn’t until I was midway that I realized I wanted to portray it from the father’s viewpoint, as I can identify myself more as a parent than I can a “girly girl” like the one in the story.

WOW: I love the way it turned out. Glad you listened to your instincts! You self-published your first novel "Dreams of Mother" a few years ago. What advice would you other writers looking to self-publish their own work?

Tina: Definitely do your research. And most importantly, don’t rush because you are excited to get your work out. I read long ago that if you are going to be a successful writer, there is one writer you can never get tired of reading: yourself. Edit, re-edit. Let it sit for a while and re-read again. Ask others to read and give feedback. There are no successful first or second drafts.

WOW: That's for sure! If you could describe your writing journey in five words, what would those be?

Tina: Dreams have no expiration date.

WOW: Very wise, and something we should all tack up on our mirrors to remind us every day. Moving forward, what is a bucket list item on your writing list and how will you achieve it?

Tina: My ultimate goal is to have a novel published with some relative success. I stopped writing for several years, and when I picked it back up a few years ago, I had to “regroup” – decide that I couldn’t just jump into being a novelist. I started with an on-line writing group, tried my hand at flash fiction. I have since joined a real-time writing group. I am currently working on short stories. This way, my skills can grow with the length of fiction I’m working on. I also try to set weekly goals as to how much time I want to dedicate to writing.

WOW: As you've been working on juggling a full-time job with a budding writing career, your writing time is precious. Have you ever had to walk away from a story or character that just wasn't working? What was that like?

Tina: I’ve had to do that several times. It makes me feel briefly like I’m failing myself or even the characters. There are some stories that have sat unfinished for a long while, but I do keep them and revisit to see if a new direction pops up later. (The short I’m working on now is just such an incident). In the end, though, I feel like abandoning a story that just isn’t working is the smartest thing to do. It frees up time for ideas that flow more easily or make me more excited to write. Challenging myself with prompts or contests is healthy for my writing, but at some point, it just wastes precious time.

WOW: Tina, thank you so much for chatting with us today, and for all your sound words of wisdom and encouragement. Happy writing, and I'm sure we'll see more of you in the future!


Sioux Roslawski said...

Renee--Thanks for doing this interview and providing the link to Tina's story.

Tina--Damn you! I read your story, and tears came to my eyes. It's too early in the day to cry, but I had no choice.

My friend's son was shot in a home invasion, and as a result, he's a paraplegic. He's now an OT (was going to be a chiropractor, but had to change the path he took). He and his wife recently adopted a baby boy. I am going to share the link to your story with him. He does lots of work with disabled (or differently-abled) people, so he might run into someone who's inspired by your story.

I'm glad you're back to writing. Can I suggest that in addition to the writing group, that you form or join a writing accountability group. If you haven't heard of one, they are groups of writers who set the guidelines (Does everyone check in every week? Every other week? Every month?) and each writer sets small, achievable goals. They report on their progress, they nudge each other and give each other suggestions (editors... directions for their WIP to take, and so on). Renee and I belong to the same group, and it keeps me not just talking the talk but also walking the walk...

... which reminds me. I didn't post my progress on Monday, so I'm late. I'd better head there now. ;)

Good luck, and keep writing. If you can make someone with a cold, cold heart like me tear up, you are one talented writer.

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