Laura’s chapbook of linked short stories, Lost in Translation, was published in 2016 by Wordrunner Press, and she is currently working on expanding it into a novel. Her most recent short story, “In the Flesh,” appears in the current issue of On the Premises. She has had nonfiction published in Prime Number, poetry in Nasty Women Poets, and fiction in Writer Advice, and Many Mountains Moving.
Her short story, “Notes to Self: One Week Out,” was a runner-up in the Winter 2016 issue of Women on Writing. Coincidentally, it deals with themes similar to those in Repetition Compulsion.
When social work and the real world become overwhelming, Laura writes humor, including a piece in Writer’s Digest, and her continuing quest to someday win the Bulwer-Lytton “It was a dark and stormy night” Award.
interview by Marcia Peterson
WOW: Congratulations on your first place win in our Winter 2019 Flash Fiction competition! What inspired you to enter the contest?
Laura: Thank you! I’ve enjoyed your contests before, and this story seemed timely and relevant for contest aimed at women.
WOW: Can you tell us what encouraged the idea behind your story, “Repetition Compulsion?” I hadn’t heard of this term before.
Laura: I ran across the term in John Krakauer’s book “Missoula.” He described a trial where the jury had trouble believing that a woman who’d been date raped would continue to have contact with her assailant. I hadn’t known the term, but I recognized the phenomenon from doing social work. Sometimes a person responds to trauma by going back to the situation in an attempt to “fix” it, make it come out differently, so they can feel safe and in control.
It’s easy to assume that we’d never do this, but people aren’t always going to be rational after a major truama. That’s why I wrote the story in second person, because it really could be you or me.
WOW: Yes, the second person point of view is well used here. Great job! What do you enjoy about flash fiction writing versus the other kinds of writing that you do?
Laura: I like flash fiction because I have to imply more in the story than what’s on the page. I’ve written longer stories, and I’m attempting a novel. Flash fiction teaches me to make every word matter, which is a lesson that helps with other kinds of writing. I’ve even tried my hand at tweet-length stories, with hashtag games like #vss365 on Twitter.
WOW: We’d love to know more about your writing routines. Could you tell us when and where you usually write? Do you have favorite tools or habits that get you going?
Laura: I always have a journal with me, and I write bits and pieces while I’m on public transportation, or waiting anywhere. When the story starts to come together in my head, I’ll sit down at the computer.
I’m a terrible procrastinator, though. Writing is a lot like exercising: once I get started, I can get into a rhythm and keep going, but sometimes I have the worst time with getting started. And with writing, as with exercise, good music helps. I have “soundtracks” for my longer stories.
WOW: Thanks so much for chatting with us today, Laura! Before you go, do you have any tips for our readers who may be thinking about entering writing contests?
Laura: That’s a hard question! Trying to get published means getting past a lot of rejections, no matter what. The most helpful thing for me has been my critique group. They keep me accountable, because I have to have something to bring to group, and they help me sharpen the writing until the story on the page is as close as I can get to the one in my head.
For more information about our quarterly Flash Fiction and Creative Nonfiction Essay contests, visit our contest page here.
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