Interviewed by Amelia Loulli
Read Beckie Dashiell’s fiction piece, Inscription, from E
Amelia: Firstly, congratulations on this being your first published piece. I wonder if you could talk a little about how you’ve found the journey from writing finished pieces, to achieving that first acceptance?
Beckie: Thank you—this is a very exciting moment for me! My journey involved a lot of reading, writing, submitting, rejection, repeat. When I found myself disheartened, I would return to some of my favorite authors, or seek out new ones, in order to remind myself of why and how fiction is so powerful. And that I want to create and explore characters and how they relate to the world around them, whether or not anyone else ever reads a thing I’ve written. It helps to have supportive writer friends too, I still share work with folks I went to graduate school with, and they’ve always encouraged me to keep my head down and keep working.
I wonder also how you might have handled any rejections or set backs along that path?
I learned to take heart from personal rejections, they are like a salve. I have a few hanging on my refrigerator. They remind me that there is something working in a particular piece! And I always try to remember how subjective this process is, editors are just people and they are drawn to what they are drawn to and I cannot control that. What I can control is my own work, and how much I put into it.
I was certainly drawn to Inscription, from E. Could you talk a little about where this unusual story idea came from, and why you chose to create this particular story within the boundaries of flash fiction?
This story was a bit of surprise, as I normally tend toward longer short stories. I didn’t know I was writing a flash piece when I started it, I didn’t even know about the man on the bench. All I knew was the playground, this women and her child, and the time of day. As I wrote about Brae’s struggle with her child, I needed someone else there, a witness. This is where the man on the bench appeared. I wrote the book inscription and her interpreting it in one sitting, and when I finished that, I knew this story could stand alone. I could have written more (I can always write more), but there was something about this moment, a breath really, that was simple and complex and personal and universal.
Lastly, what is your most favourite book currently in your house?
Alice Munro’s Runaway. It was the first collection of hers I bought, back when I was in college. I now own almost all of her collections, but this one is special. I was taking an undergraduate writing course and the professor assigned ones of her stories—“Vandals”—and I remember feeling so exhilarated, and confused, discovering you can do this with fiction? while reading it. You can start from one character’s POV and then switch? You can upend all my expectations? I’d never had an experience reading fiction like that before.
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.