Dana Lee is the runner up in The Second Annual Eliza Gale’s Elizashead Flash Fiction Contest; here is a link to her story:
Q: What made you want to be a writer?
A: I have had a passion for writing ever since I learned the skill. I was the 8-year-old who would dress up in silly clothes and put on a show for my entire family just to make them laugh. I was a 4-year-old who would walk up to a homeless man just because I wanted to see if he was having a good day. I’ve always been a very extroverted person and I needed somewhere to put my energy. I mean what kid didn’t want to be a singer or an actress. As I got older, reality set in and I always found myself writing. At the age of 14 I already had it in my mind that I was going to graduate from Columbia College. It wasn’t until high school when I wrote for the school newspaper that I realized I wasn’t going to graduate from Columbia with an acting degree……………….plus I despise math.
Q: What inspired you to write your story?
A: It was my first year at Columbia College Chicago and I had signed up for a Fiction Writing Class as an elective. Our first assignment was to write about a dream that we’ve had or if we couldn’t remember one, we had to make it up. I had no idea what I was going to write about. I played with sentences and phrases on the train ride home, enough to where I had a topic. I’ll never forget the fact that I sat down in front of my computer and squeezed this out within an hour. I was shocked. I’m a perfectionist who edits my words to no avail……it usually takes me hours to write an article, let alone a story…..and these ones kept pouring out with ease. I felt so comfortable and satisfied with my story that I couldn’t wait to share it with everyone. It was my first A+ on anything at that school and the story holds a special place in my heart for that reason.
Q: What other kind of things do you write?
A: Lately, at night when I can’t sleep, I’ll get the urge to jump out of bed and write down my thoughts because I find that I won’t dwell on them for the rest of the night if I do. My motto has always been that “people judge you, but paper won’t.” So with those words alone my journal has always been filled with poetry, (typical teenage lovey dovey stuff) rhymes, song lyrics that I make up, and thoughts that I’ve always felt were sacred to me.
Q: What kind of day job do you have and how does it make you want to do something creative?
A: For the past 4 years I have been working as a teller at TCF Bank in Chicago, Illinois. It’s more the type of job that enhances my organizational skills rather than my creative skills but compared to all of the previous jobs I’ve had, it’s my favorite. I recently graduated in May of 2013 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and a concentration in magazine writing. Since then I’ve applied for 14 jobs and like your typical college graduate…..no luck. I will say that I feel most creative when I get to embrace activities that I satisfy my soul. Things like reading a magazine, getting a macchiato from Starbucks or simply painting my nails on a Saturday night…………I have a passion for food. In fact I love writing about it almost as much as I love eating it. I’m inspired to write about restaurants when I visit new ones for the first time. My dream is to be a co-host on the WGN Channel 9 Series “Chicago’s Best.”
Q: Who are some of your influences and why?
A: knew they My parents and my grandparents are influences for always asking me if I wrote anything new, or had written something that they could read. It means a lot to me when someone cares enough to see my portfolio, or ask to read something I wrote period. However my biggest influences are my two brothers Jason and Sean. Both of them are mentally and physically challenged and they have always inspired me to do my best in life. They can’t walk or talk so my goal has always been to do the things that they may never be able to experience. I am always eager to include them in my plans. After 21 years of being undiagnosed, their neurologist called us with the ecstatic news of a diagnosis. In fact my brothers are the only two cases in America with a genetic disorder of this particular case. I always were unique and they inspire me to be just as unique. One of these days I hope to write a book about them.
Q: Why this contest?
I found the listing for the contest one evening while searching for writing jobs on my Craigslist App. At first I was hesitant about entering, so I saved it in my favorites. After dwelling on the thought for a few days I remembered how satisfied I felt after writing this story, (which for a writer is not an easy feeling to come by) so I gathered up the courage to enter and I’m very grateful that I did. 🙂
Q: Why have the Beatles stood the test of time?
A: Beatles songs are timeless and not just because this generations parents grew up listening to their tunes and introduced Beatles songs to their kids, but because the Beatles were the first of their kind and took the music industry by storm because they introduced a whole new style of rock and roll that caught the attention of teenagers around the world.
Q: What makes for a really good short short story?
A: You must be descriptive, straight to the point, and be sure not to ramble. It takes a lot of editing. It’s also true what every high school english teacher preaches….every story MUST have a beginning, middle and end, no matter how short or how long.
Q: What do you hope to express though your writing?
A: When writing fiction I hope to express imagination. I want to take my reader on a journey that they can relate to, but normally wouldn’t for-see on their own. When I write articles, my journalism is not just about conducting interviews and writing the story, to me, it is about communication and molding a person into a piece that justifies their words and emotions honestly. In poetry, I hope to relay my belief that I stated earlier………people may judge you, but the paper you’re writing on won’t. In the end you should compose something that you are proud of and don’t be afraid to share your work with someone else.
Q: If you could sing a duet with one of the Beatles who would it be and why?
A: John Lennon, no questions asked. He was an optimistic soul whose life was cut short due to a delusional mind and I believe the world would be a more open-minded place if legends like him were still alive to spread some wisdom. Honestly I don’t even know if we would get to the vocals because I’d be so curious to pick his brain about where, when and what inspired him to write. His lyrics are so enticing, and graceful that I would want to share my story with him and listen to his feedback so I could make improvements as a writer.
Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)