Interview with Stacy Post - Runner Up in the Fall 2009
Mother. Librarian. Writer. Native Hoosier. Now, Stacy Post can add "WOW! Contest Runner Up" to the list of words that describe her.
As a Mother's Day gift, Stacy's children surprised her with a whirlwind gift: a flying lesson. Ever since, Stacy has been floating on air; earning a pilot's license is on her "bucket list."
Stacy majored in English at Purdue University and received a Master's Degree in Library Science from Indiana University. For the past ten years, she's worked in public libraries.
Stacy's publishing credits include the Purdue Exponent, Skylark, Haiku Headlines, and the Indianapolis Star.
Check out Stacy's story, Twist in the Wind, and then join us for a discussion about flying, expectations, story development, and writing.
WOW: Stacy, welcome to The Muffin. Congratulations on Runner Up honors in the Fall 2009 Flash Fiction contest. In Twist in the Wind, the parents establish a negative tone with the young girl. How does that parental tone affect their child and her future decisions?
Stacy: I was interested in telling a life story in a short amount of words. So I put the parental conflict in early to motivate the character. (It wouldn't be much of a story if she played her parent's negative thoughts in her head like a broken record.) I wanted a character that could move beyond early labels and find happiness.
WOW: Your character certainly broke away from the preconceived notions of her parents and took flight on her own. For me, and perhaps for other readers, flying evokes a feeling of freedom in addition to a feeling of hesitation or uncertainty. What's the fascination with flying, both in your personal life and in your story?
Stacy: In my early twenties, my great uncle took me flying in his small plane over the Gulf of Mexico. When he let me try the yoke . . . that was the moment I put flying lessons on my bucket list.
Presently, we live within a few miles of a county airport. Small planes buzz over the house on fair weather days. I hear this often while writing at my desk. It's neat to know when it is a good day for flying.
In the story, I felt that flying was another form of exhilaration for the character to experience and the plane represented the body well. Her childhood joy was defined in a way she reasonably could express it.
WOW: I'm still visualizing flying a small plane over the Gulf. Beautiful view, I imagine! What a fantastic opportunity! You were able to build a dream based on experience. Why is it imperative for parents to listen to children's dreams?
Stacy: When children share their dreams, I think it's important for parents to listen, to honor those dreams and to help guide those dreams to realistic ends. Not everyone can be a professional ballerina, but everyone certainly can enjoy, appreciate and express a passion for dancing.
WOW: Exactly! My parents supported my dreams and told me I could do anything I put my mind to. I always wanted to be a lawyer, but eventually I followed in their footsteps and became a teacher and writer. Living life to the fullest is one theme your story addresses. Why do you think so many people forget to experience life?
Stacy: Many people don't see beyond the day to day because of responsibilities and obligations. It's easy to get lost in the routine of it all. I think bucket lists are important. Opportunities arise, but if you aren't looking for the potential, they can slip away. For example, if the plane buzzing over my house hadn't happened, I don't think I would've ever had the discussion with my family that I'd like to fly again.
WOW: Good point! I'm sitting down with my husband tonight so we can create our bucket lists. Having that discussion is such an important idea. Stacy, you shared your list with your family and your children gave you the gift of flying lessons for Mother's Day. How did that experience tie into Twist in the Wind?
Stacy: I live a pretty ordinary life as a mom, librarian, wife and writer. Flying ups the stakes. In a small plane, which seriously feels like flying in a tin can, the ride can invigorate or exacerbate your senses. I absolutely love the stomach-trembling sensation of being in the air. It lifts my spirits and changes my perspective.
When you're flying a small plane, your focus has to be directly on the action of flying. There isn't time for distracting thoughts. I felt that was good for my character. There's also so much room in the sky, it'd be hard to knock anything over. And since my character was somewhat clumsy, I wanted to give her plenty of space.
WOW: Character development - and staying true to a character - builds rapport with readers. Such an important lesson for writers to learn! Let's talk about your day job. You work as a librarian in a public library system. What's your favorite genre?
Stacy: That's like asking a mother to pick a favorite child! I read voraciously and eclectically so that I can help many readers find books to enjoy. I worked as a children's librarian for many years, so children's literature will always have a special place in my heart. For my personal enjoyment, I'm a moody reader, in that I might be in a mystery mood one week or a romantic mood the next. Right now, I'm deep into southern fiction with sassy leading ladies.
WOW: Selecting one genre would be difficult for me, too! My reading selections vary with what's happening in my life. My writing process tends to follow that same course. Let's talk about your writing process.
Stacy: Usually a character pesters me. He or she has a secret to reveal. So I follow that character on paper for a while. Sometimes it ends with a flash piece. Sometimes it's a short story. And several times, it's developed into a full-blown novel.
Since I have a day job, I have to manage my writing time efficiently. I'd like to say I write everyday, but it's more like five days a week right now. If I can squeeze in an hour or two in the mornings, or an hour or two in the evenings, I can churn out a decent word count. (I've given up a lot of television to achieve this.)
Revision is a big part of my process too. I like for stories, especially short stories and flash pieces, to sit for a month or two before I go back and revise. Having fresh eyes helps me see the errors. But I'm always thinking about a story or a character, wondering how they'd manage this obstacle or what they'd say or do in a given circumstance.
WOW: Revising work takes practice and a certain openness from a writer to let go of words or entire scenes. What advice would you offer to someone who is considering jumping into the world of flash fiction?
Stacy: Read flash fiction. There are great stories being written right now, available online and in anthologies. Take a workshop and educate yourself on what it is. If you have an idea for a story, see if it can be told in a thousand words or less. It's the perfect medium for tinkering. The WOW! contest offers critiques. It's a great opportunity to see if your story can succeed in the short form. Try it! You might like it.
WOW: Great advice, Stacy! Flash fiction teaches a lot about the craft of storytelling. And, WOW!s critique option helps writers see potential pitfalls and areas that need definition or fine-tuning. What projects are you currently working on that you'd like to share with our readers?
Stacy: February was a great month. I published a poem and two flash fiction stories. I have another short fiction story coming out in the spring issue of Rose & Thorn journal. I'm currently wrapping up a sequel to a middle grade ghost story novel. And, like most writers, I'm sending out stories, poems, queries and gathering rejections. I'm in search of an agent too. It's all a part of the process. I've been blessed to final in this contest. Thank you, WOW!
WOW: Thank you, Stacy, for participating and placing in the contest. If you'd like additional information about Stacy or her work, you can visit her blog or read other works of poetry and flash fiction.
Interview conducted by LuAnn Schindler. Follow LuAnn on Twitter - @luannschindler or visit her website: http://luannschindler.com/.