2020 Writer's Games Winner
Individual Portion 1
The Writer's Workout conducted the following interview with Lisa Fox in July, 2020. The Writer's Workout is represented as "WW" and Lisa is represented as "LF". Interview responses are published as received.
WW: What made you want to participate in the Writer's Games this year?
LF: I’d always been curious about the competition, but for some reason or another, I never signed up for it. I have several writing buddies who have done WG in the past and they encouraged me to give it a try. I liked the challenge of committing six weekends to writing, and to attempting new types of prompts as well as longer short-stories.
WW: Was there anything that you were worried or nervous about coming into this year's Games?
LF: No, because I had no idea of what to expect! Until you’re in the thick of it, you don’t realize just how challenging this competition is; it tests your creativity as well as your stamina as a writer.
WW: What kept you motivated to participate in each Event?
LF: There were a few times when I was ready to throw in the towel. For one of the events, I flat-out said “I’m not writing this weekend” before I even saw the prompt. But all weekend I kept coming back to the laptop, fighting hard against a story that wanted to be written. About sixteen hours before deadline (when I should have already been in bed), I eventually gave in and drafted my story, and am so glad I did. The only thing holding me back was, well, me. And I knew I’d regret it if I sat on the sidelines. It’s kind of like running a marathon against yourself. You can quit at any time, no one is forcing you to do this. But do you really want to quit?
WW: Did life ever get in the way during the Games? How did that affect your writing?
LF: Life ALWAYS gets in the way. Always. (Not to mention the added existential dread brought about by Coronavirus). But, I know if I want to write, I have no choice but to work around life commitments. Sometimes that means writing early in the morning or late at night. I’m very lucky to have a supportive husband and kids who know how important this is to me. As much as they can, they try to help me carve out time.
WW: What was your favorite Event and why?
LF: There were two–“Don’t Look” and “Cliché Story.” Even though I didn’t place Top 5 in either of those two Events, my ideas took hold fast and the words just flowed. I am trying to become more comfortable writing longer short stories (>3000 words) and for both of those Events I was able to do that with ease. One of the things I loved, overall, about the Games was the opportunity to really break out of my usual comfort zones to try something different.
WW: Was there an Event that was more challenging for you than the others?
LF: There were two here as well. The practice event “Let’s Call It Jim” and “Being Human.” I don’t really write children’s fiction so getting the tone right for “Jim” was tough, although I did enjoy the concept of making something inanimate come alive. “Being Human” was a very broad topic and I tend to feel more comfortable writing when I have definitive fences. But again, both took me outside my traditional areas of comfort, which was fantastic.
WW: What inspires you to write?
LF: Writing has always just been a part of me. I developed a love for reading at a very young age (my aunt used to share her Readers Digest condensed books when I was maybe 10!) and started writing stories and poetry soon after. There’s something about filling a blank page and the ability for words to move people that’s pure magic. Fiction is so important because I firmly believe that it teaches people how to be empathetic humans, how to see and understand different perspectives and places and times, outside that which we may ever experience ourselves. The idea that my words could actually move people, that something I write could make a difference in someone’s life is both humbling and exhilarating.
WW: What genre do you normally like to write in? How did that help or hurt you during the Games?
LF: I tend to write across genres, but gravitate toward what I like to call Speculative Fiction/Drama hybrids–basically Sci-Fi that makes you cry! It helped me during the World Building challenge. But I don’t think genre really matters so much, as long as you’re telling a good, meaningful story with characters and circumstances that resonate.
WW: Whose work do you find most inspiring? Why?
LF: There are so many amazing writers out there, my list of favorites grows with every book I read! I’ve always been a huge fan of Stephen King–his imagination is limitless! And George Orwell, Ayn Rand, Aldous Huxley, Ursula LeGuin, Margaret Atwood (I just finished The Testaments, it was amazing). From a contemporary perspective, I enjoy reading Jodi Picoult’s novels. Two other recent favorites are Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale and Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See and of course, classics such as The Catcher in the Rye and The Count of Monte Cristo. (My tastes are pretty eclectic… my family often jokes that I’d be happy to read the back of a cereal box if it was well-written).
WW: What is the best advice someone has ever given you and who said it?
LF: That is a very difficult question. So many people have given so much of themselves–their time, their wisdom, their understanding–to help me on this crazy journey called life. I’m not sure there’s one piece of advice I could really pinpoint as “the best,” but I can say that it’s been a blessing to have so many people support me and believe in me when there were so many times I didn’t believe in myself.
Shortly after I started my writing journey back in 2016 after about a 20-year hiatus from anything creative, my mother died. One of the last conversations we ever had was about a writing contest I was involved in; I had just learned I’d made the semi-final round. She told me she was proud of me. “I know you can do it,” she’d said. And I haven’t stopped since.
WW: What advice would you give to people thinking about participating in next year's Games?
LF: Don’t hesitate–just do it. It’s an amazing challenge that truly does help you grow as a writer. The judges’ feedback is incredibly detailed and brings solid perspective on areas to improve. The contest is not an easy one, but if you’re serious about writing, it will stretch your abilities in ways you never thought possible. Plus, at the end of the process, you’ll have six new stories that never existed before The Games.
It is the policy of The Writer's Workout to publish interview responses as received.