2019 Writer's Games Winner
Individual Portion 1
The Writer's Workout conducted the following interview with MM Schreier in May, 2019. The Writer's Workout is represented as "WW" and MM is represented as "MM". Interview responses are published as received.
WW: What made you want to participate in the Writer's Games this year?
MM: I was actually introduced to the Games by some people in my writing group last year. I'm a big procrastinator so I find that I often do my best work when there is a tight deadline. Also, there's this great high after successfully submitting a piece. Most comps you get to ride that high for a couple days, pat yourself on the back for doing the thing, then move on. With the Games, you get to do it again, and then again, and again. It's a little intense, but in a good way. Highly motivating.
WW: Was there anything that you were worried or nervous about coming into this year's Games?
MM: I managed to DQ myself twice last year (once in each session) both times for misunderstanding the prompts. I like to take risks in my writing, so my biggest concern was making sure I adhered to the prompts while still staying true to my own voice.
WW: What kept you motivated to participate in each Event?
MM: I'm competitive, even if it's with myself, so it was easy to say -- hey self! You signed up for this thing, so get your butt in the chair and get it done. Even if a story didn't place, getting it submitted was a win so that I could receive the feedback then tuck it away to polish later.
WW: Did life ever get in the way during the Games? How did that affect your writing?
MM: One of the events happened while I was on vacation. At first I thought that would make it easier, off in a tropical paradise with no responsibilities to get in the way. It turned out that it was actually harder to make time, and I ended up writing in fits and starts, and the writing reflected that, coming off halting and disjointed.
WW: What was your favorite Event and why?
MM: I think I liked "Gameshow of Death" the best. I really enjoy dark, speculative stories and this gave me an opportunity to showcase not only my tension building sills, but also some creative world building.
WW: Was there an Event that was more challenging for you than the others?
MM: Definitely "Split Up, Gang!" I am not a fan of mysteries and whodonit's so I had a hard time getting into the swing of this piece.
WW: What inspires you to write?
MM: When I was a kid I was horribly, painfully shy. I took solace in reading, but it wasn't just escapism. It taught me about humanity, and expanded my worldview. It taught me to think for myself, and to judiciously apply the scenarios I read to the real world. I learned about relationships, motivation, and subtext, and that truth is both complicated and subjective. It gave me the resources to come out of my shell participate in the real world as a confident adult. If my writing can touch just one person and give them what they are looking for (whatever that might be), I consider that a success.
WW: What genre do you normally like to write in? How did that help or hurt you during the Games?
MM: I write in a really wide range of genres so can be pretty flexible, but I tend to enjoy writing fiction with a speculative bent. A lot of the Event prompts are loose enough so that nearly any genre would fit. However, sometimes the prompt was more rigid - like "Remember When" where there was no choice but to write true Historical Fiction. It was harder in this case, not particularly because of the genre (I like HistFic), but because it was less flexible.
WW: Whose work do you find most inspiring? Why?
MM: Aldous Huxley. Roxanne Gay. EA Poe. Shirley Jackson. Dan Simmons. Henry James. Juliet Marillier. Margaret Atwood. Ursula Le Guin. Anton Chekhov. I could go on and on. Any author that shows me a beautiful moment, or writes a particularly engaging bit of dialogue, or tells a story that astonishes me, or builds a unique world, or teaches me something goes on the list.
WW: What is the best advice someone has ever given you and who said it?
MM: I can't remember where it came from at this point, but the biggest takeaway I ever got was being told that writing is not talent. Writing is a skill. Like any skill, it requires honing. Practice and putting in the work. I've only been writing creatively for about 3.5 years now. However, looking back at my early pieces I've grown exponentially, because I keep working at it. I can only hope to similarly improve in three years, six, nine...
WW: What advice would you give to people thinking about participating in next year's Games?
MM: Just do it. This is a no risk competition. Can't do every week - who cares? There's always the next week. Every piece you write for the Games is one you wouldn't have written otherwise. There's absolutely nothing to lose, and so much to gain.
You can follow MM Schreier on Twitter: @NoD1v1ng.
It is the policy of The Writer's Workout to publish interview responses as received.