Tuesday, July 28, 2020
Interview with Teri Liptak: Winter 2020 Flash Fiction Contest Runner Up
Teri Liptak lives in Texas with her supportive husband, Eric, two opinionated cats, and one loud-mouthed dachshund. Her son, Logan, and daughter-in-law, Kasey, also live in Texas and keep her inspired. After experiencing “empty nest syndrome” and more free time than she was used to, Teri began exploring writing and art. She enjoys writing women’s literary fiction and poetry. Currently, she’s working on a novel-length story. You can follow her at Twitter: @ teriliptak
If you haven't done so already, check out Teri's award-winning story "Under the Stars" and then return here for a chat with the author.
WOW: Congratulations on placing third in the Winter 2020 Flash Fiction Contest! What excited you most about writing this story?
Teri: What excited me most about writing "Under the Stars" was that it started out as a character sketch exercise to flesh out one of the characters in my novel better. Once I started learning more about Helena and put her in a situation to see what would happen, she just came to life on the page. I think this will become part of my writing process in the future – write a flash fiction story for each major character.
WOW: I like that idea! A flash piece about each character would give you more intimate knowledge of them because, whether you complete the flash piece or not, you would have spent a lot of time learning about the characters. What did you learn about yourself or your writing while crafting this piece?
Teri: Writing this piece taught me how to create relatable characters and move them through scenes without extraneous description and details. Flash fiction is an excellent teacher for beginners like me.
WOW: Excellent! I’m happy to know the experience was a positive and meaningful one for you. Are you willing to tell us more about your novel-in-progress?
Teri: Here's a little blurb for the novel I'm working on: After the sudden death of her only child in a tragic accident, Nettie Lambert’s strength will be tested in every way, as a wife and an artist. In her effort to cope with her grief and guilt, she soon becomes obsessed with the mysterious, well-written journals she finds hidden away in the lining of a decades old trunk bought from an antique store. Will meeting the owner of the journals whose beautiful words fortified her through her despair help Nettie move forward beyond heartbreak, or will it cost her everything?
WOW: What an intriguing premise! Now I’m curious to know more about those journals. What are you reading right now, and why did you choose to read it?
Teri: I'm actually going back and forth between two books right now. I'm reading Save the Cat Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody to help me with the first draft of my novel. I highly recommend this one for writers who prefer to outline their books before drafting. It is so full of great information. I'm also re-reading The Journals of Sylvia Plath for the third or fourth time. To have access to her thoughts, so raw and honest, fascinates me as an aspiring writer. She shares her doubts about her writing and the fear of rejections, which gives me strength to put my stuff out into the world. It took her ten years to get her first poem published in The New Yorker. That surprised me.
WOW: It is somehow a relief to know that even the most successful writers have had doubts and fears about their craft. If you could give your younger self one piece of writing advice, what would it be and why?
Teri: A piece of writing advice I would give to my younger self would be, don't fear rejection. It is merely a part of the process. It is inevitable, and it doesn't mean you are wasting your time. Every rejection brings you closer to a "yes."
WOW: Lovely advice. Anything else you’d like to add?
Teri: I have a new found respect for flash fiction. It is definitely a challenge to craft a meaningful, interesting story in 750 words or less. I enjoyed the experience very much.
WOW: Thank you for sharing your story and for your other thoughtful responses! Congratulations again, and happy writing!
Interviewed by Anne Greenawalt, who keeps a blog of journal entries, memoir snippets, interviews, training logs, and profiles of writers and competitive sportswomen with the purpose giving them a forum to discuss their own athletic careers, bodies, and lives in their own words. For more on the power of storytelling, join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.