The Rule of 3 Interviews: Part Two
Lisa Vooght is the woman behind Flash Fiction, a blog and writer I love to visit daily (well, as daily as Li will write!). As she mentions below, we first “met” each other in April 2011 during the A to Z Blog Challenge. Since then I have really gotten to know Li the person, and I really am glad to call her a friend.
We converse in a variety of mediums, scoff and joke with each other, and support each other in a number of ways. Li and I, along with Damyanti Biswas and JC Martin, are co-hosting The Rule of Three Fiction Writers Blog Fest, a shared universe writing challenge what will occur in October 2011. We’re excited like little kids with new toys, and we do hope you’ll enjoy playing with our toy as well. Check out the teaser video at the end of the interview.
Here is what Li has to say for herself:
Lisa Vooght was born and raised in South-central Pennsylvania, USA. She currently works in the field of special education and writes flash fiction and short stories in her spare time.
Thank you, Stu, for extending me an invitation to be interviewed. It’s an honour and a pleasure to be a part of your blog, as well as the upcoming “Renaissance: Rule Of Three” writing project. Most importantly, I’m delighted to be able to count you as a trusted and respected friend.
Now, to respond to your questions.
Can you tell the readers about Lisa Vooght, the writer?
I started writing when I was kid. As a matter of fact, much of it would be referred to as fan fiction, a term I didn’t even know existed until a few years ago. My best friend and I would write stories based on TV shows (M*A*S*H*, How the West Was Won) or favorite songs (Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven, Kansas’ Dust In the Wind). One event that stands out in my memory: in the 5th grade, we were each asked to write a short story for English class. The day after I turned mine in, the teacher called me up and gave me a note to take home to my mother. When I got home, I discovered that the teacher had written her that my story was “far too advanced” for my age, and suggested that it was plagiarized. I was horrified, and my mom was set to storm up to the school and confront the teacher. I begged her not to.
Instead, Mom came up with a better idea.
“Sit down at the table. Write me another story; I’ll enclose a note to your teacher telling her that you wrote it while sitting here at the kitchen table right under my eyes. Then she can judge how well you do. That’s fair.”
I thought she was brilliant. (I still do.)
“But what’ll I write about?” I asked. The other story had been produced after a few days of thought. How on earth would I think up something in just a few hours?
Mom glanced over at our German shepherd, peacefully snoring in front of the fireplace.
“Write about the dog,” she said, turning back to dinner preparations.
My first writing prompt produced “On Thin Ice”, about a girl who is unjustly accused of a crime, runs away in the middle of an ice storm, and is found and saved by her heroic dog. The story won me a prize, but even better was an apology from the teacher and a glowing recommendation for inclusion in a class for “gifted” students (which I unfortunately later came to loathe).
How would you describe your writing style?
I started out writing (or trying to write) a novel which was extremely verbose, with dense descriptions, detailed characters, and an unnecessarily complicated plot. I soon got on my own nerves. That’s when I decided to try my hand at flash fiction; it seemed like a great exercise in writing clean, uncluttered, straight-to-the-heart stories. It forced me to cut right to the heart of an idea and question every single word I used.
I suppose, at least for now, I’d have to describe my style as spare and, hopefully, hard-hitting.
Are you a writer who blogs, or a blogger who writes? Is there a difference?
I suppose one could argue it either way. I do both. Each provides me with different benefits, some of which overlap.
I’m not sure I could pinpoint many specific writers, simply because I’ve been a prolific reader since childhood and I believe I take something away from almost every book. I suppose some of my favorites include F. Scott Fitzgerald, George Orwell, several Russian writers (Turgenev, Nabokov, and Tolstoy to name a few) and Jack London.
What are your thoughts about self publishing? Have you already or do you plan to?
If I self published, it would probably be a collection of flash fiction, since it’s fairly difficult to find an agent/publisher willing to handle short stories. And I’ll be honest; I haven’t the skill or knowledge to handle self publishing at this point. My computer skills are dismal at best. I also tend to shy away from self promotion and social media (I tend toward the “recluse” end of the social scale). So I don’t see self publishing in my future.
I know you like blogfests. Can you tell us what draws you to them? What was your favorite one?
My first blogfest was the A to Z challenge. I signed up for two reasons. First of all, several of the hosts and participants were among my first followers, and they were incredibly supportive and helpful. I wanted to give something back. Second, I was in a terrible slump. My ideas had dried up and I was suffering from depression due to a rocky patch in my personal life. The blogfest was a way to force myself to write – I was making a public commitment to others, and I will always do my utmost to follow through on those. To up the ante, I also made it a personal challenge. I didn’t allow myself to write anything ahead of time or schedule pre-written posts. I did complete the challenge, although I failed on a personal note – 2 or 3 posts did end up being written ahead of time due to time constraints.
You are one of the co-runners of the Rule Of Three Fiction Writers’ Blogfest. What excites you about this, to take this on?
On a personal note, I’m excited to be teaming with you, Damyanti Biswas and J.C. Martin, all writers and bloggers whom I both like and respect. I think the “shared world” concept is a brilliant way to showcase individual fiction writers, as well as providing a platform for us to meet and get to know each other. Since entries must be in narrative form, I believe that it will turn out to be a great collection which will appeal to “pure” readers as well as fellow writers. And, of course, I always find it fascinating to see how individuals in a group take a shared prompt, setting, or photo and create such incredibly unique stories and visions.
Anything else you’d like the reader to know?
Sure. I don’t like vegetables or puppets. (Sorry, Stu.) I’m afraid of bugs and garbage disposals. The one genre I have so far avoided reading/writing is horror. (Cue the sound of the garbage disposal.)
I write because I like to, not because I have to, and so if it ever becomes a chore, I will quit without a backward glance. Actually, in a way, I’ve already done some of what I set out to do. I’ve had a few articles published in newspapers, online journals, etc. Won a contest. That felt good.
But more importantly, I’ve met some truly talented, warm, generous people. And I’ve had readers tell me that they were genuinely touched by a story, or it made them teary-eyed, or laugh out loud. In the end, those are the things which matter most.
Stories, poems, and other odds and ends can be found on my blog Flash Fiction.