And You Keep Going :
Vanessa Herman in Conversation with Erin Frances Fisher

Erin Frances FisherMalahat volunteer Vanessa Herman catches up with the winner of our 2012 Open Season Award for fiction, Erin Frances Fisher.

How has winning the 2012 Open Season Award in Short Fiction affected your writing?  Has it given you more confidence when you are trying something new or different from your usual character/plot/tone?

It’s always nice to win a contest, and it’s always nice to get accepted because we get many more rejections than acceptances. It’s just that little bit of inspiration that keeps one writing and trying to get published.  But I don’t think winning the Open Season Award has changed my writing.  For me it’s a matter of doing the same: writing every morning, rewriting, and rewriting some more.  When it gets published then I have to write something else.  As for confidence winning a contest just makes you feel a little more secure, and you keep going.

Did winning the award encourage you to submit more of your work?  Do you have anything about to be published?

I’ve been submitting to magazines for about two years and last year, just a year ago actually, was when I first got published in PRISM International and that felt really good.  Before that I was shortlisted for a couple of Malahat awards (the 2010 Far Horizons Award for Short Fiction and 2010 Open Season Awards) before winning this one.  I guess that really encouraged me knowing that I wasn’t at the bottom of the pile.  This is a year in now and I’m just getting my fourth publication so winning the contest wasn’t the only encouragement but this whole year has been.

Where is your next story getting published?

It’s in Riddle Fence in issue #12.  It’s got glossy pages.

What do you think about writing contests?  Are they important for young writers to enter, to get their foot in the door so to speak into Canadian lit magazines?

I like them because when you submit there are degrees to it: you could make the short list or you can win it and even if you don’t make the short list then you have a subscription.  This makes it really handy for young writers because they’re reading the magazines when they might not have the time to go to the library or sign up for a subscription the regular way.

What have you been up to since winning the 2012 Open Season Award for Short Fiction? Any new stories on the go?

I just finished my bachelor’s degree, which feels good.  I teach music so I’ve been teaching more since then and I’ve been playing more piano.  I’ve had time to practice for a concert in the fall, which has been so nice.  And just writing, it never really stops.  I write a few hours a day, in the morning before work, sometimes in the evening too.  Writing, and rewriting, submitting, getting rejected, getting accepted. I usually work on several short stories at once so when I get frustrated I can procrastinate with something else and it’s still work. 

You are beginning your MFA in the fall at UVic.  Do you know what you want to work on for your thesis?  A novel or a collection of short stories?

I am going to try to write a novel.  We’ll see.  I have a lot of sketches of different ideas but nothing cohesive enough to put into a summary. 

Do you have a certain style or genre you want to explore?

No, I want to focus on straight fiction, literary fiction for this novel.  But I did write a science fiction story over the summer and had a lot of fun with it.

Do you think it will be set in Canada?

Usually when I’m writing stories I have a specific setting in my head but I don’t have a specific country or political scheme I write in.  Maybe it will be set in Canada because I live in Canada but it wouldn’t be something mentioned in the book.  It’s really too far off to be any more specific about it.  I feel like if I tell you something it’s going to change in like a day so I’d rather not say anything

Since this is your second contest win in the past year do you have any advice for writers submitting their work to contests?

Follow the guidelines.  Don’t be discouraged if you don’t win because it’s very arbitrary as every judge has different taste.  It doesn’t mean anything if you don’t win but when you do win it feels really good. 

Vanessa Herman

Vanessa Herman

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Check out the guidelines for our 2013 Open Season Awards.