2018 Writer's Games Winner
Individual Portion 2
The Writer's Workout conducted the following interview with Paul Webb in November, 2018. The Writer's Workout is represented as "WW" and Paul is represented as "PW". Interview responses are published as received.
WW: What made you want to participate in the Writer's Games this year?
PW: I had applied for last year’s Games but was too late and it had already filled up. I received an email this year inviting me to take part, because I had missed out the previous time, which was really nice. Unfortunately I knew I was going to be generally a lot busier this time around but I couldn’t resist doing it anyway!
WW: Was there anything that you were worried or nervous about coming into this year's Games?
PW: Plenty of things! Firstly I wasn’t sure I would have enough time, or would be able to dedicate enough time to the Games to do myself justice. Losing six full weekends in a row to writing was never going to happen; I spent quite a bit of time during the week checking the calendar for future weeks trying to work out what I could fit in. The main thing I was very nervous about though was the fact that I haven’t written much before at all (just a handful of short stories), and never had my work looked at by anyone other than people close to me so I had no idea of the actual quality of it.
WW: What kept you motivated to participate in each Event?
PW: Well, I am a fairly competitive person so that certainly kept me going, coupled with the fact that once I start something I really don’t like giving up or not finishing. Also I am very motivated by deadlines (I would get a lot more done in life generally if I had such solid deadlines for everything).
WW: Did life ever get in the way during the Games? How did that affect your writing?
PW: Constantly! But I had expected it to. Having just recently bought an old house plenty of time after work and at weekends has been taken up with renovation so I lost a few days to that. I also had a weekend away visiting an old friend right in the middle of the Games, and a family gathering the following weekend. Mainly this all meant that, for most of the events, I had less time to spend on them than I would have liked. A couple of entries ended up being a little rushed because of that.
WW: What was your favorite Event and why?
PW: The first event (In Absentia) was probably my favourite. I think this was mainly because it was the most open in terms of what I could write about. As long as the narrative was driven by an absent character I was free to go wherever I wanted with it. It was also probably, in part, because it was the one weekend where I could devote a full two days to writing.
WW: Was there an Event that was more challenging for you than the others?
PW: They were all challenging! However, the Cliché story was the one I found the most difficult. It took me a long time to decide what I wanted to do with it, and even longer to plan that out. Then, after I started writing, I changed my mind and started all over again and so ended up with very little time to actually write. While I was writing my second idea I also spent the whole time thinking I should go back to my original idea. That event made me question and second-guess myself far more than any of the others.
WW: What inspires you to write?
PW: That’s a really good question, and weirdly it’s one I’ve never actually considered before. I’m not sure there is anything in particular. Perhaps for me I think it’s simply the enjoyment of creating a world and immersing myself in it.
WW: What genre do you normally like to write in? How did that help or hurt you during the Games?
PW: I have only ever really written a few short stories before entering the Games, and these were mostly in the horror genre (after reading some Lovecraft). Having written so little, and never having had anything critiqued before, I just didn’t know if what I was writing was any good so there was a lot of self-doubt. This did make me a bit indecisive when I was trying to decide what to write for each event, although mostly once I’d started I was alright.
WW: Whose work do you find most inspiring? Why?
PW: I don’t have any one writer whose work I find most inspiring; I think most books that I read inspire me in some way, or at the very least teach me something.
WW: What is the best advice someone has ever given you and who said it?
PW: “Stop watching so much television.” I’m pretty sure my parents told me that many times when I was a kid. More recently Stephen King did (in a book though, not personally), so I guess they were right all along. It is advice that I completely agree with but am still struggling to act on.
WW: What advice would you give to people thinking about participating in next year's Games?
PW: From the perspective of some who hasn’t written that much, but would like to, I would just urge anyone in a similar position to have a go. It is pretty scary to put your own work on display to be judged when you haven’t done so before but the feedback from the judges is extremely useful. It is a great way to find out your strengths and weaknesses, so try not to worry too much, enjoy whatever you write, and then learn from the criticism. Oh, and I would also advise people to try and clear as many weekends as possible for the duration of the Games!
It is the policy of The Writer's Workout to publish interview responses as received.