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Mini-Interview with Mandira Pattnaik
If your writing was having a conversation with a reader, what is it trying to say? What secrets might it reveal?
My writing is inviting the reader into the chambers of an extra sensitive heart. They might discover a new world, or a new set of eyes to look at.
What’s more important, the writer’s intent or the reader’s discovery?
Both are equally important. The reader’s discovery of the writer’s intent, as it occurs on the page.
What are your favorite things to write about? Those topics or items you can’t stop thinking about!
My writing frequently engages with issues of selfhood, motherhood, defiance, and displacement. However, I do not think these are conscious efforts at addressing particular topics. I let words flow as they come. For example, I am intrigued by the relationship between words and musicality at the moment, and reverse chronology in flash/micro is something I’m trying my hand at.
What’s your favorite point of view? Why are you drawn to this particular voice/perspective?
Second person POV. Which, I understand, might be a peculiar choice. As a student in India, our fiction was mostly in the third person. When I started reading international literature, particularly those originating in the US, it was a somewhat shocking discovery to find the dominant prevalence of First Person. Between the two, I think, the second person became a natural choice!
What’s your favorite craft element to focus on when writing flash? Is there an element you wish you could avoid?
Favorite craft element? Hmmm… I think it's the structure. Love to experiment with structures, and tend to challenge myself with what hasn’t been done, or at least what I haven’t come across in my reading. It’s fascinating to start with that. I wish I could avoid dialogues altogether, goes with my introverted, shy nature, I guess!
How do you know when a story is done or at least ready to test the submission waters?
Can’t quite put a framework to that, can you? It just feels that way! Sometimes on the same day, a piece seems submission ready, and that piece goes on to get shortlisted and/or published. Sometimes, it’s the opposite. A piece that received a very encouraging decline from a place like SmokeLong is still languishing in my folder two years later! Every time I edit some more and submit that piece to somewhere new, and it feels finished and done (though I can’t help imagining it as a weary old woman dragging her arthritic feet to the next closed door).
When looking for places to submit your flash, what are your priorities for finding a good home for your work?
My top priority is if they respect the writer’s time and efforts. I do not care much for their reputation and following, but if they’ll handle my piece with dignity and love. Plus, I have a secret adoration for University journals and places that have a rotating group of editors.
What do you know now about writing flash or other forms that you wished you had known from the beginning?
Hmmm… No, there’s nothing. Feel there’s nothing that I now know better than before, about writing flash or other forms, except perhaps about the submission process.
What resource (a book, essay, story, person, literary journal) has helped you develop your flash fiction writing?
Literary journals, all of them!
What’s your favorite way to interact with the writing community? Do you have any advice for writers trying to add to their own writing communities?
My favorite way to interact with the writing community is through my blog. Love to highlight work that I’ve read and loved, and thus support and give back to the community that has been most generous to me. I think the best advice is to encourage each other along the way.
A novel, a micro, and a poem go to a bar together. What happens?
The novel acts superior and brags. The micro and the poem ignore the novel, but soon get into an argument between them as to who’s prettier of the two.
If you could recommend a few flash stories or writers, who/what would it be?
Read lots and lots. Basically just everything you can find.
What story of yours do you want us to read?
All my forthcoming ones!
BIO: Mandira Pattnaik writes flash stories, poetry and columns. She edits for trampset and Vestal Review. Among her forthcoming work will be pieces in AAWW The Margins, DIAGRAM, Quarterly West, Variant Literary, Ruby Lit, and Scrawl Place. More about her work can be found at mandirapattnaik.com