2021 Writer's Games Winner
The Writer's Workout conducted the following interview with MM Schreier in September, 2021. 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'm always a fan of the Games and it's hard not to commit to it. There's something about the high intensity, tight deadlines, do-it-yourself-while-still-part-of-an-active-community feeling that is appealing to me. I don't think I've ever written a "bad" story for the Games, and it is so satisfying to walk away with 5-6 new pieces when it is over. And sometimes they are the types of stories I would have never thought to write if I hadn't gotten the prompts, so it can be a fun stretch of creativity.
WW: Was there anything that you were worried or nervous about coming into this year's Games?
MM: I think the only thing that concerned me a little was the idea that I've been participating for a number of years and wasn't looking forward to having to repeat a prompt. But nothing to fear—every Event was a fresh prompt and a new, exciting challenge!
WW: What kept you motivated to participate in each Event?
MM: I think it's simply that I'm self-competitive. I signed up to do the thing, and so I committed to do the thing. I'm also highly motivated by looming deadlines, so it works well to get my butt behind the keyboard.
WW: Did life ever get in the way during the Games? How did that affect your writing?
MM: For Event 1, I had two other contest deadlines and was travelling out of town for a funeral. Writing one story, let alone three, in airports, between family commitments, etc, was probably a little masochistic. I did end up submitting all three stories, but likely none of them were my best work.
WW: What was your favorite Event and why?
MM: I think this portion, my favorite Event was "Every Villain's Story." I had a lot of fun with the changing voice of my MC as she stole various people's identities. It's not often you get to play with a fluctuating voice for a single character, especially in a short story. However, my favorite character to write was the unlikely heroine in "It's a Disaster!" (Folks will get to meet her in the anthology—I hope everyone loves her as much as I do!)
WW: Was there an Event that was more challenging for you than the others?
MM: "Fatal Flaw" was definitely the hardest for me to write—not because of the prompt, but what I chose to write. I ended up writing an over-the-top character, in a quirky, tongue-in-cheek narrative style that was outside my box. Humor is not really my go-to move. However, I told myself I wanted to try some different things in this portion, and was ultimately pleased I did so.
WW: What inspires you to write in general?
MM: There are a lot of reasons I write. Because the stories are in my head, and need someplace to go or else it gets really, really noisy in there. Because it's a heck of a lot cheaper than therapy. Because I am a creator at heart, and if I'm not creating, I lose focus on what's truly important to me. But a really big reason is this: in her book, “Story Genius,” Lisa Cron tells us that “Stories instill meaning directly into our belief system the same way experience does….” I feel that to my core and I want to be part of that process.
WW: What genre do you normally like to write in? How did that help or hurt you during the Games?
MM: I'm genre agnostic. While I enjoy writing SpecFic, I've published everything from the whole range of SpecFic to Contemporary, LitFic, Noir, HistFic, heck even some Creative Nonfiction. However, I think that when we talk about genre for the Games it is kind of meaningless because the prompts are usually nonspecific when it comes to genre. However, being genre agnostic can give a writer a competitive edge in competitions—if you can be flexible, you are less likely to be stymied by a prompt.
WW: What is the best advice someone has ever given you and who said it?
MM: I wish I could remember who said this, but some writer friend reminded me once to stop measuring myself against other writers. Stop worrying that you aren't "as good" as someone else. Or haven't published as many stories. Everyone has their own journey, in their own time, and we cannot see all the steps that other people have taken to get where they are. The only person you should be measuring yourself against is the writer you were last year—what have you learned? How have you grown?
WW: What advice would you give to people thinking about participating in next year's Games?
MM: I think the best advice is to get over yourself. Ok, that sounds snarkier than I mean it to be, but try to remember this is supposed to be fun. You have the opportunity to write some stories and get probably the most extensive judges' feedback of any contest that I am aware of. All for the low price of zero dollars and the hours you spend doing it. Now is the time to take a risk with your storytelling. To try new genres. To experiment with voices and style. You will never grow as a writer if you don't push yourself to try new things and the Games are a great place to make that happen!
It is the policy of The Writer's Workout to publish interview responses as received.