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Tuesday, September 24, 2019

 

Interview with Christa Fairfield, Spring 2019 Flash Fiction Contest Runner Up

Christa’s Bio:

Christa loves fountain pens, the subtle differences in the texture of paper, ocean waves lulling her into an afternoon nap and her dog Meeka.

She believes in the magic of people writing together to find their stories and community. She is an Amherst Writers and Artist (AWA) workshop leader and treasures her time facilitating writing groups and retreats.

She lives in Northern California with her husband and dog where she has spent the majority of her career working in management, first in the semiconductor industry and now in a non-profit.

She writes short stories and imagines one day making a living putting words to paper. Until she gets there she keeps a blog of all that catches her fancy at marmaladetwine.com.

If you haven’t already read Christa’s story, “Morning Breaks,” take the time to do so and then read on to learn a bit about Christa and her writing.

WOW: In “Morning Breaks,” I feel like you’ve created a story a lot of readers will understand. Even if they haven’t experienced substance abuse, they understand regret and the drive to do better. What was the inspiration behind this story?

Christa: The inspiration came from the sharing of a woman I knew a number of years ago. Her story stayed with me for years and felt so much bigger than substance abuse. I think everyone has experienced destructive behavior patterns (destructive to them and their relationships) that seem beyond repair and change. Yet, we all struggle to make those changes for ourselves. It can feel imperative that we make the change and feel we can do it. But actually, stopping a destructive behavior is difficult and can feel impossible. But hope is always there. That’s what I wanted to write about.

WOW: With such a short word count, every word in a flash story has to count. How did you decide what details to include in the story and what to omit? How were these choices influenced by what Liz can and cannot remember about the night before?

Christa: The original draft had flash backs of the night before with one of the daughters. It also had reflections of discussions between Liz and her mother. Those elements gave additional depth and understanding to Liz’s lacking self-esteem. But in the end, that material didn’t seem necessary for the story—which was “Liz’s” struggle. The story ended up not being about how we get to where we are but what we do when we are there.

WOW: Liz is someone struggling to change. How did this story change from the first draft to the story that we’ve all read?

Christa: The whole story came to me like a movie. I could feel and see her up until the end when she opened the cabinet for the aspirin. The first ending had her take the vodka bottle out. I left Liz there for several months. But it just didn’t feel right. I have a fellow Amherst Writer leader who encourages writers to tend to their work until it has taught them all it can. I love and trust that wisdom. So I stayed with the piece, revising and changing until I found the ending that felt true to where Liz was and expressed the hope that she believed in.

WOW: How does your role as a workshop leader impact your own writing in general? More specifically, how did it impact this particular story?

Christa: The Amherst Writers and Artists’ (AWA) method provides writers a place to explore and develop their voice in a safe community. Having that space has really allowed me to show up at the page and let the stories come to me. I find the blank page can be a scary place and stories like Liz’s can be hesitant in revealing themselves.

In Liz’s story, I had to cut down half the word count of what had been a final draft. One of the practices in the AWA method is sharing the answers to: what works and what’s strong? As I sat with the full draft, I just kept asking myself—What works? What’s strong? And in the repetition of the questions, I discovered the essence of the story and deleted the rest. It was a repetitive process but a valuable exercise.

WOW: What works? What’s strong? What a great way to narrow down what needs to remain in the story. Where should our readers look for your work in the days and months to come? What are your future goals as a writer?

Christa: Finding a home for my stories is a vulnerable and scary endeavor but one I really want to have the courage to pursue. Being a runner up for the WOW contest has inspired me. I will expand my efforts to publish my work. I’m working on a new blog where I will post prompts and writing inspirations, along with some of my own writing. If people are interested in learning more, they can email me at marmaladetwine@gmail.com. Until then, people can find some of work on my current blog- marmaladetwine.com.

WOW: Thank you again for taking the time to answer our questions and for giving our readers tips on how to make their various stories, whether flash or not, as strong as they can be. Congratulations again and good luck on your writing!

2 Comments:

Blogger Sioux Roslawski said...

Sue--My comment got lost in the blogosphere.

Christa--I could completely relate to your story. With Liz it's booze. With me, it's food. Both are insidious stalkers.

Congratulations.

Take this recognition you got and allow it to nudge you into pushing yourself to submit more. Bigger and better things are right around the corner for you.

6:57 PM  
Blogger Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Sioux,
Glad you posted it again!
--SueBE

8:12 PM  

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