Moss A. Mars
2022 Writer's Games Winner
The Writer's Workout conducted the following interview with Moss A. Mars in August, 2022. The Writer's Workout is represented as "WW" and Moss is represented as "MAM".
Interview responses are published as received.
WW: What made you want to participate in the Writer's Games this year?
MAM: In truth, everything happened in what I suppose I must call “accidentally-on-purpose”. Before a brief search-engine binge on Free-To-Enter competitions, I was so unfortunately unaware of The Writer’s Games. I signed up on a whim, forgot about it, and found the preliminary Games in my email in May. I decided at that point to take it quite seriously, and though my health kept me from participating in the practice rounds, I was dedicated to seeing the six weeks through.
WW: Was there anything that you were worried or nervous about coming into this year's Games?
MAM: Any time that I decide to share a piece with someone, my greatest fear throws itself begrudgingly at my feet; will the reader remember it? To be “good” is one thing; I know where my talents lie. But to be memorable? That’s a grander honor than “great.” This is always my concern. Because to me, it’s all about touching the life of someone you’ll probably never make eye contact with, and leaving your mark on their heart to shape them better as a person. I think like all of us, I get worried I’m speaking to a choir full of empty chairs sometimes.
WW: What kept you motivated to participate in each Event?
MAM: Once I pushed my way through the first seventy-two hours (of insanity is aptly named!) I was hooked. Once my first little story popped out, bursting at the word count, forcing itself from my fingertips instead of the other way ‘round, I knew. I needed to do more, write more, create more. In reality, I couldn’t have stopped if I had wanted to.
WW: Did life ever get in the way during the Games? How did that affect your writing?
MAM: Where there’s a will, life will find a way to be in the way. I live in a busy home where there’s always a comin’ or a goin’, or a need to be somewhere. Between my day-to-day and the wavering tides of my health, I was faced with a challenge every weekend to find (or make) time for the Games. I knew which of my pieces could have been so much more if I had just had the time, the energy, the silence. Two of them I wrote in less than twelve hours. But, I’m proud of the work I did do, the impact I did have, obstacles or not.
WW: What was your favorite Event and why?
MAM: I’d almost call this a loaded question, because how could I choose just one? My favorite Event was probably Unlocked. I sat down and imagined what others would write; of mystical Wardrobes, and Star Gates, and Other-Mother horrors. My heart was pulled away from the weight of the Event, and into the depth of what it meant. When one door closes forever, how can we live with the choices we made behind it? I was led on an unexpected journey where I attempted to pay homage to tropes I understood; heroes, and sacrifice. On that journey, I discovered something much deeper about myself (a writer’s dream!), and that’s a priceless gift to me.
WW: Was there an Event that was more challenging for you than the others?
MAM: I actually particularly struggled with Not The End. I was mourning something in my life, and my heart called me to write a love story. Six thousand words and twenty hours in, I knew I couldn’t submit what I’d written - and I’d have to do something else, or forgo the Event. Even then, I couldn’t brainstorm up what else to do or how else to pack a punch into a short story. And then it came to me, like dragonfire in the night, and the rest was maddened typing, and a sadness that for this year, it was indeed the end.
WW: What inspires you to write in general?
MAM: This world is something of a wonder. A place where the glories of nature are combined with the obscurities of magic, and the cruelties of man. People have become blinded by the light of society’s pressures, and walk without questioning who paved the way before them. I want to wake people up. I have a gnawing need to make them feel things, to realize they could be making a difference for someone who needs it. I don’t want them to finish their sad story and go back to their comfortable lives, tucked safely into their beds. I want them to feel the unease grow in them until they take action, be it volunteering, donation, or speaking up when they see something instead of letting it get brushed underneath of the rug.
WW: What genre do you normally like to write in? How did that help or hurt you during the Games?
MAM: I write in a broad variety of speculative fiction which was incredibly helpful during the Games. Being able to adapt and evolve is pretty much my saving grace in all things.
WW: What is the best advice someone has ever given you and who said it?
MAM: The best advice I’ve ever received was carved into the bathroom stall of a Philadelphia bar. It said “PEOPLE TREAT YOU HOW YOU LET THEM!”. My life has never been the same. The best advice ever directly given to me, however, was from my late friend, Xander Fox. When we were thirteen, they told me “It doesn’t matter if [they] don’t like your stories. The people who get them get them, and that’s who you write them for. Right?” Fifteen years later, and coming up on two years after their death, those words still sing every time.
WW: What advice would you give to people thinking about participating in next year's Games?
MAM: The best advice I have for anyone considering, is to do it. Challenge yourself. Make the Games a priority, and have the experience of your life. You will learn about yourself, and you can do nothing but grow from here. Make sure you set realistic goals and whether you’re a pantser, a planner, or a plantser, be kind to yourself. You’re the only you you’ve got, and that’s irreplaceable.
It is the policy of The Writer's Workout to publish interview responses as received.