2019 Writer's Games Winner
Individual Portion 2
The Writer's Workout conducted the following interview with MM Schreier in November, 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 find that I've come up with some of my best work writing prompted fiction on a deadline, so the lure of 5-6 weeks of challenges was hard to ignore. It's a great motivation to get my butt in the chair. Also, knowing that each story is going to get feedback is a great benefit.
WW: Was there anything you were worried or nervous about coming into this year's Games?
MM: Actually, no. I used to worry about getting a prompt outside of my strengths or DQing myself on a technicality. Then I realized, the only pressure in this contest was the pressure I was putting on myself. I decided just to let it go and have fun. So I did, and I did!
WW: What kept you motivated to participate in each Event?
MM: I think I mentioned before in a previous interview that I'm competitive, particularly with myself. In subsequent portions I've scored 7th, 5th, and 2nd overall. I have to admit, a part of me really wanted to earn that top spot. Also, it's a pretty satisfying feeling to be able to pat yourself on the back on Tuesday and say--look you added another story to your repertoire. Good job, kid!
WW: Did life ever get in the way during the Games? How did that affect your writing?
MM: Time is always an issue. Of course, we all have lives and responsibilities and it is unrealistic that we can completely clear our schedules 5 weekends in a row. I find that as long as I keep the story in my head, noodle in the car while running errands, take notes on my phone in between activities, etc, that when I do squeeze in a few hours to sit down and write the story is already formed and I just have to get it out on the page.
WW: What was your favorite Event and why?
MM: I think, I'd have to say this session it was Tick, Tock. I wrote something a little outside my norm--not a romance per say, but definitely a story that focused on a relationship. (I won't say more, since you can all read it when the anthology comes out!) However, it felt good to stretch a little as a writer and try something new.
WW: Was there an Event that was more challenging for you than the others?
MM: I think Fake Truth was a tougher one as I do not tend to read memoirs very often. I sort of ending up faking it and I'm pleased with what I wrote, but I'm still not certain you can call it a "traditional" memoir.
WW: What genre do you normally write in? How did that help or hurt you during the Games?
MM: I'm not a slave to genre. I've published Horror, SciFi, Fantasy, HistFic, Mainstream, Literary, even some Creative Non-fiction. I do have a special love for speculative fiction though. However, I think my flexibility probably gives me an advantage in the Games--regardless of the prompt I've rarely felt fettered by genre.
WW: Whose work do you find most inspiring? Why?
MM: I always find this a difficult question, as I'm a voracious reader and find inspiration in so many places. Recently I read "Coyote Songs" by Gabino Iglesias. I find it inspiring because it really is a genre defying work--contemporary, horror, crime, human, mythical, cultural. It's very rich and full of layered, flawed characters. Further it's neither a novel nor an anthology, but sort of a mosaic of interconnected shorts. Just a clever and unique presentation that I really enjoyed reading.
WW: What is the best writing advice you've ever gotten and who said it?
MM: It may not be the best advice I've ever gotten, but something that has resonated with me lately is "Never believe anything you think about yourself as a writer when you are not writing." --David Milch. It's easy for the doubt monster or impostor syndrome to creep in when you are not actively creating. How to combat that? Write more, of course!
WW: Since you were in the overall top 3 in both portions of the Games this year, do you have any secrets or strategies you use when writing for the Games?
MM: What works for me may not work for everyone. There's no one right way to do it. My ideal process is: whinge that I have no good ideas on Friday over a glass of wine (aka the WTF stage), noodle on Saturday, write on Sunday, edit on Monday, although more than once it was do everything on Monday. Yikes!
I prefer to have the story in my head before I start writing. Having the story mapped out--or at the very least having the inciting incident, conflict, resolution, and denouement identified before I sit down to write--gives me landmarks to aim for. Sure I go off road sometimes, but I think in deadline driven events, people often run out of time or words and their endings feel rushed or the story lopsided. When I have those milestones to work towards, I find I usually end up with a more balanced story.
But my biggest secret is to just have fun. Whenever I let go and simply enjoy the process, invariably those are my best stories!
You can follow MM Schreier on Twitter: @NoD1v1ng.
It is the policy of The Writer's Workout to publish interview responses as received.