If you haven't done so already, check out Seetha's award-winning story "All the Blue Ties" and then return here for a chat with the author.
WOW: Congratulations on placing in the Summer 2020 Flash Fiction Contest! What excited you most about writing this story?
Seetha: Sometimes a memory from the past can emerge and be as vivid as the day it happened. But it is also loaded with new thoughts and experiences. I had this sudden image of my father, tall and healthy, getting ready for work, and then another image of the day of my father's funeral. I wanted to try and connect the two somehow, and to explore the metaphor of the blue tie. The more I delved into it, the more emotions surfaced about the options that life presents to us, the choices we make, and about courage.
WOW: Thanks for sharing the inspiration behind your story. What did you learn about yourself or your writing while crafting this piece?
Seetha: I started writing this piece in the first person, but it felt too personal, and was too difficult to write. The use of the second person allowed me not only to take a step back from the experience, but it also (hopefully!) added a layer of empathy to the voice – as the observer rather than the initiator of the emotion. It almost felt like I could be the older “me” who understood how the ten-year-old me felt. I also learned that it's good to experiment with style - for example, to see if the flashback in the story would work better than a retelling of the past.
WOW: Stories in the second person can be very challenging, and I often wonder why authors choose a second person perspective. I appreciate you sharing why you chose it – you made it work very well! According to your bio, it sounds like you predominantly write nonfiction. In what way did the Australian Writers’ Centre inspire you to try flash fiction?
Seetha: The Australian Writers' Centre runs a monthly flash fiction competition called Furious Fiction - 500 words in 55 hours in response to a set of criteria. I love the challenge of creating a piece of writing in a short amount of time. The competition has sent me down many paths of genre and style that I wouldn't otherwise have travelled! Now it has become a regular writing exercise.
WOW: How wonderful to have a catalyst to help you experiment! Do you think you’ll continue to dabble in fiction or return to nonfiction?
Seetha: I love both and I think I need to write both. To paraphrase a quote I once read: nonfiction to tell the stories in my head, and fiction to tell the stories in my heart!
WOW: I love that! I had never thought of nonfiction vs. fiction in that way before. What are you reading right now, and why did you choose to read it?
Seetha: I have a pile of books on my bedside table. Top of the pile are Oscar Wilde's Complete Short Fiction (a book I bought over twenty years ago but revisit often for the clever sentences), and a more recent acquisition: Australian writer Imbi Neeme's novel The Spill. It caught my eye at the library and I was drawn in from the very first page. It's a beautiful story about family, love, and regret.
WOW: If you could give your younger self one piece of writing advice, what would it be and why?
Seetha: Don't be afraid to sound like a beginner - just say the thing you want to say! We're all beginners at something at some point. Oh, and if I'm allowed another: keep writing those 'Dear Diary' entries!
WOW: Excellent advice! Anything else you’d like to add?
Seetha: Thank you so much, WOW team! I love that I can be a part of this community from all the way in Australia.
WOW: We love having you as part of the WOW community! 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.