Interview with Short Story Contest Winner Wendy Lym

Writers and artists are all around us, y’all. In this case, Wendy Lym is a colleague and neighbor (her office is just down the hall from mine) at the community college where I teach. Since we’re also friends on social media, I learned that she won the Texas Observer’s 2017 short story contest with Muriel, and I knew I had to interview her about her off-campus life as a writer. Enjoy!
—Jen Hamilton

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The 15-Minute Writing Challenge

Making time to write.

This is difficult. Some days it is impossible.

How do I find time to draft ideas, make outlines, develop characters?

Then I remember: I wrote an entire novel in 15-minute increments. I did it in the car, at the Laundromat, while the kids were in the bath. I am not a drafter. I am not an outliner. I have tried time and again to sit down and PLAN what I am going to write. But I know that the stories are all around me and they come out when I least expect it. I want to scoop them up, I want to see the ideas floating in my everyday life and use those to get better. I’ve stopped working on my novel for a bit so I can focus on smaller pieces, short stories that bring together everything I am trying to do in my giant book. They’re small, manageable slices of the larger ultimate goal.

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Waiting for Permission

My dad is writing a novel. I didn’t expect him to do this. He’s a 75 year old retired mechanical engineer with stage 4 cancer, whose writing accomplishments include passing “English for physics majors” at Berkeley in the 60s.

He announced his plan to introduce retiree-generation-post-apocalyptic fiction to the mainstream by bringing chapter one with him on a family vacation last month. He printed out a couple copies and left them on the counter in the kitchen.

The first day, I walked by it and pretended I didn’t see it. I saw the cover sheet (“Nowhere to Hide,” Chapter One, The Reckoning) and I suspected my dad had taken up fiction writing. I just couldn’t believe it.

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