I cannot tell you how excited I am to feature Rebekah Postupak for this week’s #ThrowItForward Thursday, for if anyone deserves recognition for all she does to promote writing, writers, and writing community, it’s Rebekah.
Back in the fall of 2013, I was a lonely writer desperately seeking writerly connections. I stumbled upon the Shenandoah Valley Writers Facebook group, and through it met co-founder Rebekah, who also happens to run a little weekly Flash Friday Fiction contest some of you may have heard of. I entered the contest, got kudos for my writing (first public praise of any fiction I’d ever written), and kept participating, both in the contest and the FB group. I met Ms. Postupak in person. I met her again. I hung out with her again and again and again and . . . okay, you get the picture.
See, Rebekah Postupak is one amazing human being. She is one of the most talented writers I know, and yet she spends hours every week helping other writers achieve their dreams – through running Flash contests, featuring authors like me in Spotlight interviews, promoting the heck out of people wherever she goes, the whole shebang. Her spirit and generosity are endless.
I’m so grateful, therefore, that she somehow found the time to answer my nosy questions. And I’m fiercely proud to call her my friend. Read on for insight into Flash Friday and Ms. Postupak herself. (And if you haven’t ever given flash a whirl, come write this Friday!)
When did you start Flash Friday? What was the impetus behind it?
Oh, what a merry party the weekly flash fiction contest circuit was when I first (thanks to my dear friend, editor/publisher Susan Warren Utley) stumbled across it: a contest (or two, or three!) for every day of the week. Alas, by the end of 2012 many contests were petering out as their hosts started paying attention to (gasp!) their own WIPs. But it was too late for me, as I was already obsessed with this sharp, brilliant form of storytelling. I had no choice but to launch my own contest, which I did that very December.
How has running Flash Friday impacted your own writing?
I’ve the greatest advantage of anyone, sitting at the gate week after week and watching the stories flood in: it’s like having eighty tutors. You writers are the masters, and I your wide-eyed student. Each Friday y’all teach me something new about just how mindblowing flash fiction can be.
Do you have any idea how much you’ve affected the writers around you?
I’m the one who’s indebted to the flash fiction community. Beyond their consistent writing excellence, they have faithfully supported me by encouraging me in my own writing, and by turning up weekly to write and thus sparing me utter humiliation (like that horrific day shortly after I moved to the United States when I fashion-mistakenly wore yellow socks and a matching yellow sweater vest. I didn’t knoooooooooooooow! Saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaave me!).
Tell us one favorite story about a Flasher, and seeing them grow through their writing for FF.
Oh, I have so many rich, beautiful stories I could share! So many brave writers for whom FF is the first place they’ve shared their writing publicly; others for whom FF represents the first time they won anything for their writing. It’s infectious: such gorgeous confidence and skill can’t help but keep growing and spreading across the community. Like Tribbles, except useful.
What do you wish people knew about being the figurehead of flash?
I was going to say, “I wish they realized I don’t know anything at all,” except I suspect everyone already knows that. 🙂
Where do you see FF in five years?
Tough question, as we’re already past the average lifespan of this sort of thing. Let’s just say that I love the community so very dearly, and it will be my privilege and joy to continue running Flash! Friday as long as there’s a need for it.
Where do you see your own writing in five years?
In a completed novel or three. But as a fantasy writer, I usually see things that aren’t there…
You’ve emphasized to me a number of times how you value FF as a safe space for writers to come and be validated for their writing. What’s your opinion on feedback? Better when framed positively, or more baldly?
May I be a rascal by answering “neither” to that? 😀 I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately about diversity, and one thing that’s become abundantly clear to me is the universal ache for authenticity and humility. So for me “positively or negatively framed criticism?” misses the heart of the problem. Instead, I need to ask myself, How can I pass on to this writer what other writers have taught me? I need to remember not to command, but to share. Not to impose, but to offer. As long as I am careful to approach critiques in this way, then the frame almost won’t matter: an authentic, humble heart will be the only voice heard.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give aspiring writers?
Don’t be afraid; you’re not alone.
What’s one piece of advice you yourself wished you’d had before launching a venture like FF?
Don’t be afraid; you’re not alone. 🙂
Tell us about your own writing career: when did you start? What’s your preferred type of writing? What are your goals for the future?
I started the moment Princess Periezade leapt on her horse to go fetch the Talking Bird, the Singing Tree, and the Golden Water after her brothers failed (Arabian Nights), when the four Pevensies plunged deep into the wardrobe (Narnia), when Frodo danced naked on a sunny hilltop (Lord of the Rings), when Harimad-sol raised Gonturan to the sky (The Blue Sword), when Anne saw Barry’s Pond and knew it for The Lake of Shining Waters (Anne of Green Gables), when Caderousse looked into the river to see his hair turned white (The Count of Monte Cristo)…. Which is all to say I fell in love with writing by reading: as a child, on long, hot, monsoon-drenched afternoons when writers across the ages opened the world to me. Since then I’ve been a fantasy writer hobbyist, spinning mostly short stories and flash. I dream of finishing writing one of my novels. It’s a beautiful dream, isn’t it?
Are writing flash and writing novels compatible? How does writing shorter pieces aid in constructing longer works?
Oh yes, flash writing boosts novel writing in the same way sprints help in training for a marathon: you learn economy, efficiency, resourcefulness, persistence. Thanks to flash, you can also learn one rarely needs the word “that.”
What’s the most difficult thing about running a venture as large as Flash Friday? What’s the most rewarding thing?
Flash! Friday is a hungry beast: she devours as much time and energy as I’m willing to give her (and often more). Not surprising, however, given the glittering hoard she guards! Your tales, your friendships, your personal and public triumphs, make the whole thing worthwhile.
Last one: with everything else you do, how on earth do you find time to write anything, much less run a huge flash community?
See # 7! It’s a struggle; I’ve yet to finish even one novel. But look at how marvelous all of you are! I feast on your stories week after week after week. Even if I never write “The End,” I will still end my days the richest writer in the world.
My eyes are teary after that last answer. But I guarantee you, Rebekah, your impact stretches far and wide.
Thank you for joining us today.
Great interview! I have to echo Margarets sentiments, I can’t stress how influential Rebekah has been on my own writing. Before FF I had NEVER stuck with any kind of writing routine, I would write sporadically and take months at a time off. Since my first taste of FF I have written at least once a week for over 2 years, all thanks to the amazing community that Rebekah created. Despite all that practice, I can’t find the words to describe how influential the weekly FF contest has been 🙂
Hooray!! I agree completely!